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Information Resources and Services for:
REL 299: Sources and Methods in the Study of Religion

Spring 2012
Doing Research

With so many information sources available online and in print, simply finding information usually isn't the issue. The true research problem lies in turning a vague idea into a research question and finding quality information sources that will help you answer it - or complicate the issues in valuable ways. Take time to think critically about your research during this entire semester. Have you utilized the best sources for your topic? Do you have a grasp of the literature in your field? Have you thoroughly explored the nuances of your topic and supporting sources? This approach will not only be useful in this class, it will be invaluable as you head into the workforce or further graduate study. As always, give yourself enough time to do your research and have fun with your topics and the places they're taking you!


Using the Library

As you do research in the field of religion & theology, the library functions as your lab. We have links to numerous databases containing millions of article references. We have a solid collection of books in religion, plus access to hundreds of thousands more through Interlibrary Loan. We have webpages describing how to cite sources and other research tips. Equally as important, we have librarians who are trained to teach you how to find and use information, whether that information is found in a book, an article, or on the Internet. We have unique insights into the research process and can help you explore your topic (narrowing it, broadening it, finding leading scholars in your field, incorporating sources, you name it!), in addition to finding sources. The library is where you experiment with your research - testing, revising, and creating something new.

Personnel:
Julie Gilbert jgilber2@gac.edu
Garrett Paul gpaul@gustavus.edu


Table of Contents:

Reference Books
Reference books are an indispensable information source. Use them to gain overviews of your topics, which will help you narrow your topic and give you good ideas for search terms. Many reference books also have recommendations for further reading, which can provide you with additional sources.
  • Resources for Religion
    This link goes to our rather large Religion resource page. The reference works listed below provide a small sample of what's available. If your topic is interdisciplinary you may find other subject guides also useful. These reference books are shelved on the west side of the library's main floor, by the new building construction.
  • Anchor Bible Dictionary
    New York: Doubleday 1992
    This definitive and current work covers not only names, places, and events of the Bible, but also includes cultural history, social institutions, archeological sites, and other topics of particular interest to Biblical scholars today.
    • Location(s): Ref BS 440 .A54 (6 vol)
  • Encyclopedia of Religion
    Detroit: Macmillan Reference 2005 2nd ed. edition
    Covers religions from around the world and through history as well as people and ideas related to religion. The articles are written by experts in their fields and include excellent bibliographies. This new edition includes hundreds of new articles, thoroughly revised coverage of all topics in religion, and a handful of "visual essays" that illustrate visual culture as a significant aspect of religion.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 31 .E46 2005
  • Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
    Washington, D.C.: CQ 2007 2nd ed. edition
    An example of a resource that bridges two disciplines. Offers overview articles on a wide variety of topics including places, people, faith traditions, and controversial issues such as creationism.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 65 .P7 E53 2007
  • Encyclopedia of Protestantism
    New York: Routledge 2004
    Covers creeds, cultural and social issues, important people and institutions, theology, and the diverse traditions and faith groups that make up protestantism, both historically and in contemporary times.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 4811.3 .E53 2004
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia
    Detroit: Gale 2002
    This recently-revised encyclopedia covers many general topics, but is particularly thorough in its coverage of Catholic doctrine, history, and traditional practice. Includes many illustrations.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 841 .N44 2002
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus
    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • WorldCat
    Includes over 40 million bibliographic records representing cataloged resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Owning libraries can be identified for books, journals, archival resources and electronic resources. Access to WorldCat is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM); the database can also be searched through its free web interface, at worldcat.org.
    1000 CE-present; updated daily
  • Google Books
    Google is in the midst of an ambitious project to digitize books from publishers and in libraries. Those that were published before 1923 are in full text; those still potentially under copyright can be searched, but not viewed in full. It offers an interesting way to locate very specific words, phrases, and citations, particularly in older books. Using the advanced search you can limit a search to books that are full text or published within a range of years.
Finding Articles
If you have an article citation and can't find the full text in a database, use the Journal Locator to see if Gustavus owns a print copy of the article OR if it is available through another database. Be sure to search the Journal Locator with the title of the journal, not the article title.
  • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials
    A comprehensive research database in the fields of religion and theology produced by the American Theological Library Association. Includes bibliographic citations and abstracts to journal articles from over 1,500 titles, citations to essays and book chapters, book reviews, and Doctor of Ministry projects. Many journal articles and book reviews are also available in full text.
    1949-present; updated quarterly
  • Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive
    Search and browse the full text of 8 religion books and journals published by the Biblical Archaeology Society, including the Biblical Archaeology Review and the Bible Review.
    1975-present; updated monthly
  • Catholic Periodical & Literature Index
    The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index Online is the product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Library Association. The database covers all aspects of the Catholic faith and lifestyle, and includes over 380,000 index citations of articles and reviews published in Roman Catholic periodicals, Papal documents, church promulgations, and books about the Catholic faith that are authored by Catholics and/or produced by Catholic publishers. Indexing for CPLI Online corresponds to the print version, The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, published by the Catholic Library Association and covers content from over 200 periodicals. Coverage in the database dates back to 1981. (description from EBSCOHost)
    1981-present
  • New Testament Abstracts
    New Testament Abstracts Online is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. The database is an indispensable research and bibliographic aid for scholars, librarians, clergy and students of the New Testament and its historical milieu. The database contains more than 38,000 article abstracts, 1,200 review abstracts, 13,500 book abstracts, and 50 software abstracts. Each year an additional 2,100 articles from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages are selected for inclusion. In addition, approximately 800 current books are also summarized annually. Article coverage in the database dates back to 1985. (description from EBSCOHost)
  • Old Testament Abstracts
    Old Testament Abstracts is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Biblical Association. The database features indexing and abstracts for journal articles, monographs, multi-author works, and software related to Old Testament studies. Content from over 450 journals is covered. All abstracts are in English, regardless of the language of the original work. Topics covered include antiquities, archaeology, biblical theology, philology and much more. Coverage in the database dates back to 1978. (description from EBSCOHost)
    1978-present
  • Google Scholar
    This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. It is stronger in the sciences than in the humanities, with social sciences somewhere in between. One interesting feature of Google Scholar is that in includes a link to sources that cite a particular item. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
Cited References Search
As you find books and articles, be sure to mine their references for sources. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SEARCHING ON THE COMPUTER! By tracing cited works you're drawing on the evidence others have used and may find connections that you would otherwise miss. You will also see patterns emerge: works cited by everyone else are worth a look; authors who write a lot about your topic are worth searching by name, etc.

Search for cited books by title or author in library catalogs; for journal articles, check the Journal Locator by journal name to see if we have an article you want. Several databases also include features telling you how often a work has been cited. You don't need to find a book or article on the computer to request it through interlibrary loan. Simply use the reference you have to fill out a form for either a book or a journal article. These forms are linked on the Interlibrary Loan page below. (For essays in a book, ask for the book.)

To search forward in time - to see who has cited a work since it was published - you may find these two sources useful, though they tend to be stronger in coverage of science and social sciences than in the humanities.

  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
    A multidisciplinary index covering the journal literature of the arts and humanities. This index fully covers 1,144 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals, and also includes some individually selected, relevant items from over 6,800 major science and social science journals. Some of the disciplines covered include archaeology, linguistics, art, literature, music, philosophy, dance, history, religion and theater.
    1997-present; updated weekly
  • Google Scholar
    This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. It is stronger in the sciences than in the humanities, with social sciences somewhere in between. One interesting feature of Google Scholar is that in includes a link to sources that cite a particular item. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
Other Library Resources
We've got several additional resources through the library that you might find useful for your research. Check out these webpages for more information.
  • Interlibrary Loan
    For information on requesting books and articles from other libraries, visit our Interlibrary Loan page.
  • Reference Desk
    Visit with librarians at the desk, by phone, email or chat for help with any library or research question. Feel free also to e-mail me directly(Julie Gilbert)

    If you're in the library, chatting with a reference librarian face to face might be easiest, but if you're not in the library this chat form gives you a way to ask a quick question. It works during the hours that a librarian is working at the reference desk - generally between 10 am and 10 pm but with breaks. If you don't get an answer right away, the librarian is probably busy helping someone else but he or she will eventually get back to you.



Page Coordinator: Julie Gilbert jgilber2@gac.edu
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