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RELS 118: New Testament (Johnson Hodge): Scholarly Articles

Spring 2024

Recommended Research Databases

Suggested Research Databases:


You may also wish to check individual academic journals focused on related topics. Below are some examples -- you can check for particular journals we have online anytime, by using the e-journals portal

Research Strategies

Craft Your Keywords:

Any research process begins by figuring out how to search. But, where to begin? 

Spend a few minutes thinking about what words could be used to describe the topic. Be as specific as you can. 

Think of other words or phrases you could use that mean the same thing(s). 

use expert search tricks
Use AND and OR to make your search more or less specific! This will give you more sources to choose from.

  • When you use AND, a database will look for resources that use all of the words you entered.
  • Use OR between words that mean the same or similar things, or that you are equally interested in.

If you aren't finding much, try...

  • Rephrasing. See if you can find even 1 or 2 relevant articles, note what subjects are listed for them, and use these to try again.
  • Broadening (your topic, your passage, etc.) 
  • Switching tools. Sometimes you just need a different database! 

Understand How Searches Work

Some research tools -- Google and other web searches as well as certain databases -- conduct what is called a full-text search, which scans every word of the document(s) being searched from beginning to end. 

Others, including the majority of our research databases and the library catalog, conduct what is called a bibliographic or metadata search. These tools scan only the metadata, or descriptive information about the documents they contain -- titles, abstracts, subject keywords and other info. This is why searching for sentences or entire phrases often works poorly in the research databases, and why Google produces so many more matches. 

So which do you choose? 

bibliographic search will bring you fewer results, but will be tailored to results that mention your terms in the descriptive information (and therefore, are more likely to be relevant). 

 full text search will bring you a greater number of results, but more of them are likely to be irrelevant (for example, if your search term appears only once in the document in an off-hand mention). However, it might catch some articles that you might not see otherwise, and may help you find articles whose bibliographic information uses different terminology to describe your topic. 

You may want to experiment with tools that conduct both kinds of searches, to get the widest range of resources on your topic. 

Advanced Searches: Scripture Search

Atla Religion's Scripture Search allows you to search for articles flagged as pertaining to your specific scripture passage.  There are several different levels available. For example, if I had been assigned to examine John 3:16, I could search for all articles pertaining to the Gospel of John; all articles pertaining to Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John; or all articles pertaining to John 3:16, specifically. 

Note that articles are not always labeled accurately or comprehensively -- it's a starting point! So, if John 3:16 doesn't produce enough results, consider backing up to look at John Chapter 3, or, if necessary, the Book of John. Or, try taking out any specific search terms you may be using, look at all articles pertaining to John 3:16 regardless of theme/topic, and then narrow from that point. 

We will review scripture search in class. Here's a quick video to show you what it looks like: