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Searching the Literature – Using Databases and Websites

|Introduction| |Examining Websites and Online-services of Music Therapy| |Selected Web-Addresses for Different Purposes| |Recommended Resources for Literature Search| |Listservs and Newsgroups| |References|


During the last ten years the internet has become part of everyday life in the Western world – and today e-mail is the quickest and often also the most reliable connection between East, West, North and South.

In few years the computer, the sequencer and music software programs like Cubase, Finale or Sibelius will be standard equipment in therapy rooms and in music therapists’ everyday life. However, some music therapists are still hesitant or sceptical towards ‘the digital world’ – without really knowing its potentials.

Bertold Brecht was not only a major writer of the 20th century. He was also one of the first intellectuals to see the enormous potential of the new electronic media of his time: the radio. Brecht’s radio theory from the 1920es stated that this new media had an interactive, i.e. genuinely democratic potential. For many years only radio amateurs made a reality out of this. The idea of publice service radio and public access to media (primarily thorugh the telephone) had a major break-through as late as in the Seventies , and since then it has developed into trivial as well as exciting radio/TV programs and other interactive media – we still witness new variations on this theme.

Brecht would probably have loved – and of course criticised – the Internet, had he still been with us. It contains crap, cruelty and commercial ism, of course, – but it is also a challenging and exciting interactive media and experience. Personal messages, statements, informations and questions can be communicated worldwide in a few minutes, and you can receive other peoples’ responses: visual, auditive, and cross modal.

Options and offers are almost unlimited, and this is make critical awareness and conscious selection necessary. The hypertext links from one web page/site to another is a simple, yet sophisticated way of exploring the possibilities. Click yourself into new information and interactive dialogue with colleagues, institutions and organizations from other countries. It is easy to get lost in the infinite web of connections, so remember always what you came for (if not just for fun – or ‘surfing’ as it is called with an appropriate metaphor)!

Examining Websites and Online-services of Music Therapy

On the following pages we will ask three questions:

  1. How do I find the best music therapy websites?
    -> the section “Selected Web-Addresses for different purposes
  2. How can you use the world wide web / the internet to search literature?
    -> the section “Recommended Resources for Literature Search
  3. Where can I find interesting listservs and newsgroups on music therapy?
    -> the section “Listservs and Newsgroups“.

Selected Web-Addresses for different purposes

The criteria for selecting the websites mentioned here have been as follows: It should give access to all sorts of relevant material, be easy to use, have interactive features , be updated regularly, include many links – and it should be free and non-commercial.

Based on these criteria our “First Five Choices” would be:

  • The website of the World Federation, situated at the University of Witten-Herdecke (D): www.musictherapyworld.net This website is comprehensive, carefully edited and includes a world(!) of material: the e-journal Music Therapy Today, literature databases, an articles and dissertations archive (papers can be downloaded in different formats), registers on research and clinical practice, information on new books, WFMT and EMTC plus links to training programs, research programs, journals etc.
  • The website of the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy: www.njmt.no

    This website includes selected full-text articles, discussion forums, e-reviews of new books, links to music therapy journals, training programs and international organisations. It also links to the international e-journal Voices which has its own website www.voices.no
  • The website of the music therapy program at Temple University (Philadelphia). www.temple.edu/musictherapy/index.html This website includes research archives of two international music therapy models: The Mary Priestley Archives, devoted to the study of material related to the development of Analytical Music Therapy, and The Helen Bonny Archives with material related to the development of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.
  • The website of the American Music Therapy Association: www.musictherapy.org/index.html

    The website of the American music therapists’ association covers or links to information on all sorts of relevant activities in the USA.

  • The website of the Music Therapy Program in Aalborg University: www.musikterapi.aau.dk This website includes all information about the training program and the international ph.d.program in music therapy. It also gives access to the institute e-journal col legno including music therapy papers (in English) and a series of monographs(in English) on subjects taught only in this program. Finally there is a link to the GIM Resource Center, with databases, bibliographies and other resources for GIM therapists, students and researchers.

Recommended Resources for Literature Search

The recommendations below are based on several years of experience with literature search in databases , sepecially those referenced. In the following table you can see the results of a general search and three specific searches in 8 databases:

Database NAME Number of MT journals included in database Search 1: Music therapy (total) Search 2: Music therapy + Rett(‘s) syndrome Search 3: Music therapy + Hospice / Palliative care Search 4: (The Bonny Method of) Guided Imagery and Music
MTWORLD 10+ 4934 12 162 182**
GOOGLE S. 10+ 6960 82 372 150
PSYCINFO* 7+ 2181 9 66 71
RILM 6+ 2829 6 48 71
MEDLINE 5+ 1388 8 81 3
CAIRSS 8+ 2576 5 29 2
INGENTA 7+ 74 2 4 2
Auboline (10+) 607 (books) 1 (book) 3 (books) 6 (books)

Search: 090306 (150306 for MTWORLD) *only 2003-2006 ** A special database on BMGIM literature (700+ titles) can be found at www.musik.aau.dk/research/musikterapi/gim-resource-center/index.htm

A short introduction to all 8 databases in this survey (March 2007) is given below. For many years the specific Music Therapy database or Bibliography (and related EndNote ‘Music Data’ libraries on the cd-roms published by dr. David Aldridge 1996-2005) was superior in most cases. Recently the Google Company introduced their academic search engine Google Scholar, and this is certainly a very powerful tool, especially because it can be combined with full text links to you local university library. (Ask a librarian near you, if this doesn’t work automatically).

An overall recommendation would be to conduct systematic literature searches in the first four or five databases mentioned in the table above. A thorough introduction to searching strategies and procedures is given by Gilbertson & Aldridge (2003).

Ingenta is a service that allows you to order article, by fax or on-line, but it is quite expensive, unless you have access to it from a university or institution library. Auboline is the database of the University of Aalborg (including link to the institute library of the music therapy program), where a large collection of music therapy books are available.

The most important databases and services – why, where and how to find and use them:

  1. The MT WORLD database (and related ENDNOTE databases/libraries)
    • Online access is provided by www.musictherapyworld.net Click on “Structured Review Databases” and then “Bibliography”. CD-ROM versions are available on the Information CD ROM series provided by University Witten-Herdecke (D).
    • Advantages: Comprehensive; music therapy specific; all bibliographic info, incl. abstracts. Personal reference archive can be built, based on searches. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen
    • Disadvantages: Relatively few books and book chapters included
    • Comments: Latest version of the CD-ROM (vol. V) was released in 2004.
  2. GOOGLE SCHOLAR http://scholar.google.dk/
    • Where: Accessible from all computers that are online.
    • Advantages: Comprehensive; all bibliographic info, incl. abstracts. If the search engine is combined with access to a local university library it is possible to read and download full-texts in different formats, if the library subscribes to electronic versions of the journal(s)
    • Disadvantages: Not music therapy specific.
    • Comments: A very recent option, not fully explored.
  3. PSYCINFO (PSYCFIRST) http://online.psycinfo.com/
    • Where: most University libraries and networks in the world.
    • Advantages: The best database within clinical psychology; all bibl. info; incl. abstracts. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen.
    • Disadvantages: Not much German/Nordic literature.
    • Comments: Psycinfo covers the three most recent years. For earlier references: follow guidelines on the website.
  4. RILM (Repertoire Internationale de Literature Musicale) database/CD-ROM
    • Where: Aalborg University Library (www.aub.aau.dk ). Check your own library for access.
    • Advantages: Comprehensive; music specific; all bibliographic info, incl. abstracts. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen.
    • Disadvantages: No systematic music therapy coverage; not always up to date.
    • Comments: The database is improving quite fast. Only access via intranet or with password. The total list of relevant databases accessible from AAU-net can be found at http://www.aub.aau.dk/portal/media-type/html/user/anon/page/default.psml/js_pane/databasebrowser/state/dbliste/databasetopic34/x
  5. MEDLINE (via PubMed) www.nlm.nih.gov
    • Where: most University libraries and networks in the world. The online address given above is free of charge.
    • Advantages: The best database within medical fields; all bibl. info; incl. abstracts. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen.
    • Disadvantages: No systematic coverage of music therapy. Not much German/Nordic literature.
  6. CAIRSS http://imr.utsa.edu/CAIRSS.html
    • Computer-Assisted Information Retrieval Service System, developed by Don Hodges, Univ. of San Antonio (Texas).
    • Where: From any computer with access to the Internet.
    • Advantages: Comprehensive and up to date within music and music therapy. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen. Text download facility.
    • Disadvantages: Few abstracts; almost no non-English literature.
    • Comments: CAIRSS has been improved, but is still very anglo-centric.
  7. INGENTA (previously UNCOVER) (net address: www.ingentaconnect.com )
    • Where: From any computer with access to the Internet.
    • Advantages: Comprehensive and up to date. When you have a password/profile, articles can be ordered by fax or online. Many additional services. Citations can be e-mailed (to yourself) from screen.
    • Disadvantages: No abstracts; almost no non-English literature; not music therapy specific.
    • Comments: Private ordering is expensive. Your library may provide support.
  8. AUBOLINE + The database(s) of Aalborg University Library www.aub.aau.dk
    • Where: also available by net outside Denmark.
    • Advantages: AUB has a good collection of music therapy books and journals.
    • Disadvantages: Auboline includes no abstracts; Journal search only separately by databases.
    • Comments: Try the ‘Virtual libraries’ (under Databases), including RILM.

Other important databases:

  • AskERIC: The ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology (ERIC/IT) and the AskERIC Service have been discontinued as a result of reorganization of the ERIC program by the United States Department of Education. Most of the resources previously found on the ERIC/IT and AskERIC websites may be found at www.eduref.org Try also http://ca2.csa.com
  • UTSA libraries: www.lib.utsa.edu/index.html
  • The Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/

Other Selected Web-Addresses/URL’s

If you want to buy books or CDs from electronic bookstores or publishers:

MT Electronic Journals + other relevant electronic Journals:

Listservs and Newsgroups

A Listserv is a list of electronic mail addresses. When you subscribe you can receive and send (copies of) e-mails from/to other members of the list. The communication include information about courses, practicum placements and jobs (in the USA), stupid questions, clinical dialogues, literature discussions etc. – you will learn how to select what you need.

There are two specific MT listservs in the USA: The ‘Music Therapy Listserv’ is open to all people interested in the area. MT-PRO, is open to professional music therapists worldwide.

Where to register the Music Therapy Listserv:

www.musictherapy.org/listserv.html with the content: SUBscribe MUSTHP-L

To join the ListServ, send an E-mail to listproc@ukans.edu

Where to get information about and register MT-PRO: send a mail to:



Choi, B. C. (1996) What is the Internet? Why should music therapists use it? Music Therapy Perspectives, Vol. 14(2), 98-99.

Gilbertson, S, Aldridge, D. (2003) Strategies for searching elecotronic databases. Music Therapy Today, Vil. IV (4) Retrieved September 2003 from http://musictherapytoday.net

Hart, C. (2001) Doing a Literature Search: A Comprehensive Guide for the Social Sciences. London: Sage Publications.

Johnson, F. (1995): Integrating Technology. Music Therapy Perspectives, Vol.13.

Laszig, P. (1997): Netzwerken: Psychoanalytische ressourcen im World Wide Web. Psyche, 1184-89

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