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USSY 290R Religious Pluralism - Research Guide

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Get Strategic!

Learning how a book, reference collection, article index or specialized bibliography is organized can inform your research strategy and help you get the most out of these sources.  Review the essential, source locating and reviewing strategies, and consider:

  • What types of sources should I look for and where?

  • How are my research readings guiding my source selection decisions?
  • How long will it take me to access them (On campus, OLink or ILL)?

Step 1: Get a handle on your topic with scholarly reference sources

University-level libraries offer a wide variety of topical and subject specific reference collections, as well as contemporary and historic news collections, both in print and online.  These include,

  • topical encyclopedias
  • biographical dictionaries
  • subject handbooks & guides
  • subject bibliographies
  • News databases and "papers of record" in electronic and print format

Try this searching technique in the online catalog to find reference sources that address your topic:

 keyword search example = (“encyclopedia/dictionary/handbook”) + (research topic keywords)

Step 2: Find and efficiently review the contents of a few key books

Once you've found a book or two that relate closely to your area of interest or topic:

  • Review the table of contents
  • Selectively read the introductory and concluding chapters
  • Selectively read the intro and concluding pages of each chapter in the book
  • Review the subject index for topics, people, and terminology related to your topic - then review these sections in the book
  • If there are chapters or sections of the book relevant to your topic, read them fully
  • Review the footnotes/endnotes and bibliography to learn more about the scholarly conversation sourounding the topic
  • Note what gets cited, and how often, with regard to:
    • primary sources
    • classics secondary sources
    • old and recent secondary sources - to see changes in theories and ideas about the topic

At all times, collect a list terminology and keywords/concepts/people/historical references related to your topic

Step 3: Find and review some academic research articles

Use article indexes and specialized bibliographies (in print or online) to search for scholarly articles on your topic

  • Selectively read the introductory and concluding sections of journal articles relevant to your topic
  • Selectively read the intro and concluding pages of each section in the article
  • Are all or parts of the article relevant for your topic?  If yes, read them fully
  • Review the footnotes/endnotes and bibliography of the article as you read to learn more about the scholarly conversation sourounding the topic
  • Note what gets cited, and how often, with regard to:
    • primary sources
    • classics secondary sources
    • old and recent secondary sources - to see changes in theories and ideas about the topic

At all times, collect a list terminology and keywords/concepts/people/historical references related to your topic

Step 4: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repeat steps 1 through 3 as necessary.

Why Not Just Google It?

It's very important to get away from the all too common "first 5 sources from Google/Google Scholar" technique for research and writing papers. 

 

The quality of papers written using this technique very often reflects the research methodology itself - poor and random

 

Be aware also that the "5 random sources" technique is instantly recognizable by instructors when they read the final written product.


If you want to try using a similar search engine for all Case Libraries resources, try searching in Discovery from many pages on our site, include your research guide.

CWRU Libraries Discovery