The University of Texas

Research Design

Course number: ARC 386M

Handout (pdf)

Top Indexes and Databases

  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
    Indexes more than 2,000 periodicals published worldwide on architecture and design, archaeology, city planning, interior design, and historic preservation
  • Environment and Planning
    Provides indexing to four journals devoted to urban planning, research and design: Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, and Environment and Planning D
  • Environmental Index
    Provides abstracting and indexing information for over 1000 titles in the area of environmental policy and studies
  • PAIS International
    Bibliographic index with abstracts covering the full range of political, social, and public policy issues. Includes documents published worldwide in any of six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The subject headings and abstracts are in English
  • Academic Searh Complete
    A comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full text database
  • Bibliography of the History of Art
    Covers European and American art from late antiquity to the present and contemporary art worldwide
  • Web of Science (ISI Web of Knowledge)
    Covers more than 8,400 journals in all subject areas. Provides web access to all three ISI citation indexes, including: Science Citation Index Expanded
  • Ulrich's Periodical Directory Online
    Provides information about journals and magazines, including where each title is indexed
  • Texas ScholarWorks
    Provides open online access to research and scholarship produced at UT, including theses and dissertations.

Other Relevant Resources

  • WorldCat
    Online union catalog describing the collections of thousands of libraries around the world.
  • Google Books
    Search engine for books and journals digitized by Google and digital editions from many publishers, note that it is limited to digital/digitized materials. Use advanced search to search by title.
  • Google Scholar
    Search engine for academic literature, note that it only search a small fraction of what is available through specialized databases. Particularly useful to find articles and books that cite a particular article/book.
  • scoUT
    UT Libraries’ discovery tool. It is a single interface to search the combined resources provided by the University of Texas at Austin Libraries. It offers an easy and fast interface with a Google-like search box, and a large central index that includes all kinds of content, including books, journal and newspaper articles, theses and dissertations and more. For more information, see the scoUT FAQ page and scoUT search tips.

Literature Reviews

A literature review provides you with an overview of existing literature (books, articles, dissertations, conference proceedings, and other sources) in the chosen area. When embarking on a research project begging wth a literature review will allow you to:

  • Gather information about your topic, including the sources used by others who have previously conducted research
  • Find out if your specific research question has already been answered
  • Find out what areas or perspective on your topic have not yet been covered by others
  • Analyze and evaluate existing information

The literature review will assist you in considering the validity and scope of your research question so that you can do the necessary revision and fine tuning to it. This will provide the base need to formulate and present strong arguments to justify your chosen research topic.

Other resources:


  • Després, Carole. "The meaning of home: literature review and directions for future research and theoretical development." Journal of architectural and planning research 8, no.2, (Summer 1991): 96-155.
  • Eckersley, Michael. “The form of design processes: a protocol analysis study.” Design Studies 9, no. 2 (April 1988): 86-94.
  • Galasiu, Anca D., and Jennifer A. Veitch. “Occupant preferences and satisfaction with the luminous environment and control systems in daylit offices: a literature review.” Energy and Buildings 38, no. 7 (July 2006): 728-742

Case Studies

A case study is a research strategy that uses "an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon or setting" in its real life context. (Adapted from Groat, Architectural Research Methods, 346).

Other resources:

  • George, Alexander L. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005. H 61 G46 2005
  • Groat, Linda N. Architectural Research Methods. New York: J. Wiley, 2002. NA 2000 G76 2002 (see chapter 12)
  • Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2003. H 62 Y56 2003
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent. "Five Misunderstandings About Case Study Research." Qualitative Inquiry, 12, no. 2 (April 2006): 219-245.


  • Brooker, Graeme. Context + Environment. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia, 2008. NA2850 .B76 2008
  • Ladau, Robert F. Color in Interior Design and Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. NK2115.5.C6 L34 1989
  • Poldma, Tiiu. Taking up Space: Exploring the Design Process. New York: Fairchild Books, 2009. NA2850 .P65 2009

Finding Books

Use the Library Catalog:

  • start with keywords
  • once you find a good title, check the subject headings
  • you can save and/or email titles by using the Save to Clipboard button
  • search tips – truncation (*), phrases (“ “), for more tips see: Advanced Search

Find Articles from a Citation

When you have a citation for a specific article you will need to search for the title of the journal or magazine, the source. Once you find the journal, look for the year, volume and page number in the citation to locate the article.

  • e-journals: from the Research Tools drop down menu choose Find a Journal
  • print journals: from the Library Catalog choose Journal Title
    • current issues are kept in the reading room in alphabetical order
      • you can see the call number next to the title label
    • back issues are shelved at the upper stacks level (level 6) by call number

Research Tips

  • keep a research journal, include where you have looked, what you found and how you found it
  • manage your citations: use EndNote or Zotero
  • use RSS feeds and alerts to keep up with current issues and articles
  • check out the classes and other services your library has to offer!




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Phone: (512) 495-4250

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