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REL 399: Religion Senior Seminar

Spring 2011
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!

Why You Need the Library

As you do research in the field of religion & theology, the library functions as your laboratory. 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 faculty 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.

Instructor: Thia Cooper
Librarian: Barbara Fister

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

    The following reference works provide a sample of what's available. Consult the Resources for Religion guide (above) for many other reference titles. Reference books are shelved on the west side of the library's main floor.
  • Anchor Bible Dictionary
    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 Protestantism
    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
  • Encyclopedia of Religion
    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 Women and World Religion
    Major themes explored include comparative study of issues such as mythology, ordination and afterlife; wide ranging perspectives including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and others; relationship of religion to study of art, literature, and science; historical perspectives on religions both new and prehistoric; biographies of religious leaders and scholars; methods and theories for study of women in religion.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 458 .E53 1999
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation
    Covers people, places, events, documents, and ideas relevant to the Reformation in lengthy, scholarly articles. Each reflects current research and interpretation and is followed by a selective bibliography.
    • Location(s): Ref BR 302.8 .O93 1996 (4 vols.)
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia
    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
  • related fields
    • Civilizations of the Ancient Near East
      Essays on the culture and history of Egypt, Syro-Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia. Includes some coverage of the Arabian peninsula, northeast Africa, and Aegean and Anatolian cultures. Provides excellent background papers on culture and society, with extensive bibliographies.
      • Location(s): Ref DS57 C.547 2000
    • Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      A recent update of a classic source of substantial essays on philosophers and their ideas. All of the articles and references have been updated to reflect current philosophical thought, and many entries have been added for contemporary issues and philosophers.
      • Location(s): Ref B 51 .E53 2006
    • Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      A vast encyclopedia of the field that extends the classic Encyclopedia of Philosophy by adding both new topics and approaches to philosophy, but also by including new approaches and new research on classical philosophy. New areas covered in this work include philosophical approaches based on feminism, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, deconstruction, and postmodernism.
      • Location(s): Ref B 51 .R68 1998
    • Encyclopedia of European Social History from 1350 to 2000
      6 vols. Offers substantial, well-documented survey essays on topics such as social change, urban and rural life, gender, popular culture, religion, and everyday life.
      • Location(s): Ref HN373 .E63 2001
    • Dictionary of the Middle Ages
      13 vols. A scholarly, readable, and beautifully laid-out encyclopedia covering people, events, ideas, movements, texts, and cultural features of the medieval world. Articles are often illustrated with period art work and are followed by bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.
      • Location(s): Ref D 114 .D5 1982
    • Encyclopedia of the Renaissance
      Covers nearly 1,200 cultural and historical topics relating to Europe from 1350 to the early seventeenth century.
      • Location(s): Ref CB 361 .E52 1999 (6 vols.)
    • Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
      Offers a broad range of entries about individuals and concepts related to the Enlightenment in Europe and America.
      • Location(s): Ref B 802 .E53 2002 (4 vols.)
    • New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
      Covers a wide range of ideas historically and internationally. Particularly strong for overviews of current ideas taken in historical context, listing essential and significant texts that contributed to the development of concepts.
      • Location(s): Ref CB 9 .N49 2005
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
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,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=rfh

    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.
    • Some Hints:
      • combine synonyms across a row using the "OR" command; this will broaden your search
      • combine concepts by adding words that express a second idea on the next row; this will focus your search
      • limit by language if you want to find only sources in English
      • look at the subjects listed on the left hand side of the results to discover other search terms; then revise your search
      • keep track of the citations you find by marking the ones you're interested in and then saving them or exporting them to RefWorks
      • If you're looking for analysis of specific scriptural passages, type in the book and chapter you're interested in and choose "SC Scripture Citation" as the field to search.
  • 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.
  • Catholic Periodical & Literature Index,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=vah

    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,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=rvh

    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,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=oah

    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)
Other Databases
  • Academic Search Premier,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=aph

    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
  • 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.

    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
  • New York Times Historical (1851-4 years ago)

    The full text of the New York Times from 1851 to 4 years ago -- covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper back to the first issue. The newspaper text is fully indexed and searchable and the database also contains full-page images, including graphics. Available on the Web through ProQuest.
  • Project MUSE

    Project MUSE provides full text electronic access to over 100 scholarly journals in humanities, the social sciences, and mathematics. Topics covered include literary theory; classics; history and cultural studies; philosophy; film, theatre and the performing arts; political science and mathematics.
  • ProQuest Newsstand

    Indexing and selected full text access to over 350 newspapers from around the world. Archival coverage begins in 1985 for some titles. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
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.)

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.

The Web is a mixed bag and the majority of scholarly resources are not available on the Web. However, it can provide insight into contemporary popular culture and a wide variety of approaches to topics in religion. The following scholarly sites provide selective links to academic sites. 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.
  • Citing Your Sources

    Learn how to cite your resources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Style. In addition to these online style guides, print style guides (and The Everyday Writer) are available both at the library reference desk and at the Writing Center (Confer 232). This page also includes links to RefWorks and EndNote Web.
  • Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library Subject Guide for Religion

    Resources in the library and online for research related to religion. Includes a listing of subscribed print journals, book browsing tips, key print reference works, and recommended online databases and websites.
  • Evaluating Web Sites

    Use our guide to help determine if a web site would be an appropriate and reliable source for your research.
  • Off-Campus Access

    Instructions for accessing article databases from off-campus.
  • Chat with a Reference Librarian

Technology Toolbox
Every scholar has a personalized way of tracking and using sources and organizing their work. These tools may prove to be useful as you work on your thesis.
  • Dropbox

    The purpose of this web-based tool is to provide users with space online to store files and software to sync files from one computer to another as well as to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. A free account provides users with 2 gigabytes of storage online. This is particularly handy if you use multiple computers and want files automatically updated on all of them at once. It also can be accessed via the web when you are using a public computer.
  • Diigo

    Social bookmarking tools let you store websites you want to remember and either share them with others or mark them as private. This particular tool also lets you highlight and annotate websites with sticky notes and, if you like, share your annotations and notes. Diigo is advertising-supported. Other similar bookmarking products include Delicious (free) and Pinboard (fee-based, but uncluttered with ads).
  • Google Reader

    Use Google Reader to stay on top of new developments using RSS ("really simple syndication"). Most frequently updated webbsites such as news sites and blogs have RSS feeds, and Google Reader is an easy way to aggregate and organize that news into folders. Many scholarly databases also allow you to turn a stored search into a feed and scholarly journals frequently have a feed to alert you when new articles are published.
  • Zotero

    Zotero is a powerful citation management program that works as a Firefox plug-in. By clicking on an icon in a browser toolbar, you can store citations from databases, library catalogs, Amazon, and many websites. You can also add sources by filling in a form or edit citations that don't use standard formatting. Add notes, organize into project folders, synch across computers, view stored citations from any web browser or mobile device, share projects, and create bibliographies in any of a large number of citation styles by simply dragging and dropping citations. To integrate your citations into a word processor (Word or Open Office) another plug-in is available.

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