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World Religions: Find Sources

Search Strategies

The MC Library has access to different kinds of search tools: 

  • Databases: Collections of articles, videos, images, or other types of sources. Some databases cover a wide range of subject areas or source types, while others are focused narrowly on one (e.g., only psychology journals; only images). 
  • MC Library Catalog: Shows the books, ebooks, streaming or hard copy audio and video available through the library (does not provide access to any articles). 
  • RaptorSearch: Searches across most of the information that you can access through the MC Library, including the MC Library Catalog and most of our databases

Use the tabs in the box below to find suggested databases or other search tools to use for a variety of types of sources. 

MC students, faculty, and staff  can access all of our search tools and online resources from on or off-campus. Use your MC ID (with the letter M) to log in. 

Research Skills & Tips:

Unlike Google, library databases can't understand an entire sentence. You'll need to break your topic down into the most important ideas: the keywords.

Keywords are individual words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your topic, thesis, or research question. 

Example Question: What are the benefits of religious diversity on social institutions and culture? 

Keywords: benefits, religious diversity, social institutions, culture

After you've identified your main ideas and some keywords to start with, think of additional search terms for each concept. These can be synonyms, related ideas, broader terms, or narrower terms. Since a database will match only what you type, using different terms for similar ideas can help you find more articles. 

Example Search Terms: 

  • benefits: Note that this broad term is often difficult to use as a keyword. Instead, identify possible benefits as you find useful sources, and incorporate those ideas into later searches.
  • religious diversity: religious identity, interfaith dialogue
  • social institutions, culture: art, museums, literature

Now that you have identified keywords, you will combine them in the database search box. Try more than one combination to find different sources! 

Use the search operators AND & OR to combine your search terms. â€‹Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase, with the words in that exact order: "social media" 

Use AND between your main ideas to narrow your search (all words will be found in each source): 
  • religious diversity and art and museums 
  • government and regulate and content and "social media" 
 

Diagram shows overlap between gov't & free speech

Use OR to look for related search terms, in one search (at least one of the search words will be found in each source). This will increase the number of sources you find. Put related search terms in parentheses, and combine with other terms: 
  • (religious diversity or interfaith) and art and museums
  • government and regulate and (Internet or "social media")

Diagram shows social media & internet highlighted

Research Skills & Tips:

Filter Results:

To make your results more manageable, use the database filters to refine the search results by full-text access, source types, publication date, and other factors that serve your research purposes.

  • Full-text access: Some databases will list search results that we do not have access to through the MC Library subscription. To avoid this, select "full text." (This option is automatically selected in RaptorSearch.)
  • Source types: If you know you only need peer-reviewed journal articles, select peer reviewed. Or, if you want to see only magazine articles, e-books, or another type of source, you can select only what you need. 
  • Publication date: If your sources must be from within the last five years, you can set the year of publication to reflect that. 

These options may be located in different areas of the database results list. In RaptorSearch, the options will be on the left.

You can also set these options before you search from the Advanced Search screen in most databases. 

Sort Results:

Most database search results will be sorted by relevance. You can change this to sort by newest first, oldest first, etc. Look for the sort options near the top of the results list. 

Find Sources for World Religions

Databases on World Religion:


Multidisciplinary Databases:

Also known as scholarly articles, or academic articles. Some journal articles are "peer reviewed," which means they've gone through an extra review process before being published. 

When & Why to Use Journal Articles:

  • Information is based on research and expertise
  • Information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • The peer-review process (mostly) ensures that the information is accurate
  • They add to a growing understanding of a topic by contributing new ideas 

Search:

Research Skills & Tips: 

When & Why to Use Scholarly Books:

  • You need to understand a complex topic (these are easier to read than journal articles)
  • You need very in-depth analysis of a topic
  • You need a broad understanding of one or more topics
  • You need a summary of existing research on a topic

Search:

Call Number Areas:

Browse the call number areas starting with BL - BX on the library shelves. For example:

  • The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity, Call Number BL85 .O94 2011

Research Skills & Tips:

Primary sources are original documents and materials. They may include religious texts, documents relating to a religious institution or organization, letters, diaries, photographs, etc. 

Search:

Research Skills & Tips:

Statistics and data can provide valuable information for research and analysis, but it is important to consider how the data was collected and how it is presented. More tips on evaluating statistics can be found on the Evaluate Sources page, linked above.

Search:

Step 2: Find Sources

"Find Sources." Magnifying Glass.

To find sources, start by thinking about your research questions and the type of information you need. For example, you may need to search in different places to find statistics than you would if you need to find images. 

This page provides tips for how to develop a search strategy, and also links to search tools you can use to find specific types of sources. 

As you search, consider the tips on the Evaluating Sources page, and assess each article, book, website or other source that you find.