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REL 262: God & Gender

Fall 2008
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 finding quality information sources that are appropriate for your topic. 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!

Julie Gilbert
Anna Hulseberg
Mary Solberg

Table of Contents:

Entering the Scholarly Conversation
  • Cited References Search
    As you find books and articles, be sure to mine their references for sources. 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.)
  • Consider the Wider Context
    As you work on your topic, search for information that explores the broader context that serves as the backdrop for your topic. For example, if you're doing research on missionary response to apartheid in South Africa, you will want to look for sources about apartheid and South Africa, even if it does not directly relate to missionaries. This approach grounds you in the context of your topic and allows you to consider how your topic intersects with larger cultural and historical trends.
  • Understand the Argument
    When scholars write articles and books, they are arguing a particular thesis, just as you do in the papers you write in college. Professors rarely ask for a simple recitation of facts; you are typically asked to argue or interpret a set of facts. Scholars do the same thing. When you read articles and books, read carefully until you can fully articulate the author's premise. You are not simply reading for facts but to understand how the scholar is interpreting the facts. This will help you shape your own scholarly argument.
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.
  • Dictionary of Feminist Theory
    Columbus: Ohio State UP 1995
    Covers theoretical issues in feminism and is particularly useful for putting them in historical context. Helpful for pinpointing primary documents relating to feminist theory.
    • Location(s): Ref HQ 1115 .H86 1995
  • Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories
    London: Routledge 2000
    An alphabetical dictionary offering brief but illuminating articles on a wide variety of feminist theories as they are applied to a wide range of subjects. Each entry is followed by a selective list of key works on the topic. An excellent place to get a quick snapshot of feminist theory at work across disciplines.
    • Location(s): Ref HQ 1190 .E63 2000
  • 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
  • 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
  • Religion and American Cultures
    Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio 2003
    Coverage in Volume 1 includes the intersection of culture and various religions in American life. Volume 2 addresses how religions approach various topics such as sacred space, the body, and death. Volume 3 contains a variety of primary source material.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .R448 2003
  • Consult these guides to literature in Religion and Women's Studies for further suggestions
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.
  • MnLink
    A shared catalog of Minnesota libraries, including the University of Minnesota. To search a large number of libraries at once, choose "Libraries - Academic" from the "Current Profile" list. Use the "Get it!" button to place Interlibrary Loan requests.
  • 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
    1000 CE-present; updated daily
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. To locate items that are not full text in a database, click the yellow FindIt! button in the article record. The computer will search to see if we have access to the full text in another database or in print in our library. If we don't have access to it, you'll also find an Interlibrary Loan option.
  • 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)
  • 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)
Interlibrary Loan
Using Interlibrary Loan allows you to get books and articles from other libraries. It is a profoundly useful research tool and fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Use the following tips to learn how to use Interlibrary Loan.
  • General Information
    • What are my barcode and password?
      You will always have to enter your barcode and password to request items. Your barcode is the 14 digit number on your student ID. Your password is your last name.
    • What if my barcode doesn't work?
      If you get a message saying that you're not authorized to use ILL, there's probably a problem with your patron record. Often it is simply that you got a new ID card at some point and we don't have it in our system. You may also have a fine that is blocking your card. At any rate, contact the Circulation Desk (x7557) or the Reference Desk (x7567).
    • How long does it take?
      It usually takes 1 week for a book to be shipped to our library. Articles will be emailed to you within a few days if the article is available from the lending library in electronic format. If the article isn't available electronically, a photocopy will be mailed to your campus PO box within a week. *Please note that times are approximate. Always give yourself plenty of time to request materials from other libraries.
    • How do I know when the items have arrived?
      Articles available electronically will be emailed to you. For all other items, you will be emailed a pick up notice from the library. You can get your items at the Circulation Desk.
    • Where do I return the items once I'm done?
      Return books to the Circulation Desk. You do not need to return emailed or photocopied articles.
  • Ordering books and articles from other libraries
    • MnPALS
      Order books from other libraries in our Minnesota consortium via MnPALS (the library's catalog). In the Advanced Search screen, set the Library to Search menu to All MnPALS Libraries. Perform your search. When you find a book you want, click on the title to view the full record. In this screen, click ILL request. Log in with your barcode and password. Once you log in, you will be taken back to the book record. Click ILL request again to fill out the complete ILL request.
    • Most other library catalogs and databases
      From almost every other library catalog (like WorldCat) or database (like ATLA), look for the yellow FindIt! button in the item's record. Click the FindIt! button, which will take you to a separate screen that is searching to see if the item is available through another database or in our library. If the Interlibrary Loan option appears, you will have to request the item from another library. Click Go next to Interlibrary Loan. You'll be taken to the online request form.
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.
  • Documenting Your Sources
    Check out this guide to learn about citing sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Style. A copy of the Chicago Manual of Style is housed on the shelves behind the reference desk.
  • Evaluating Web Sites
    Use our guide to help determine if a web site would be an appropriate and reliable source for your research.
Contacting Julie
I'm happy to meet with you at any time to chat about your research. I can suggest additional sources, advanced search techniques, and troubleshoot problems you may encounter. Email me at or call x7552.

Page Coordinator: Julie Gilbert
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