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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Graduate Thesis Development: Review

Ways to gather and synthesize sources to articulate the ideas in your work.

Research log

Dedicate a sketchbook or notebook to track your efforts: list the date, source, search terms, results, related subjects, cited authors & additional readings.


Our initial responses to the world are often sensory, emotional, abstract. They precede language.


Review – Review the sources you have already collected.

In one place gather the notebooks, imagery, publications, websites, film, music, and other media which have informed your work while at RISD. Gather the core sources from which you draw inspiration. Make a list.

Review your sketchbooks to identify early source imagery, quotations, influences & inspiration you may have overlooked.

Review favorite books and exhibition catalogs. Read the book’s preface and introductory essays.

Read through the references, essay and chapter notes for relevant sources.

Read alphabetically through the book’s index for terms & phrases, artist’s names, and artworks that spark deeper investigation.

For exhibition catalogs, read the curator’s statement. These are a rich source of historic, intellectual, aesthetic & pragmatic information on why and how an exhibition came to be.