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RST-0124: World Religions

A guide to resources for students in RST-0124: World Religions

How Much Information And What Kind?

Before you start researching your assignment, try to get an idea of what sorts of sources you want to find, and how many you'll need.

What About Wikipedia?

  • Wikipedia itself should never be used as a source in an assignment.
  • ...BUT in most Wikipedia articles, you can find lists of Sources and External Links which may contain resources you can use.
  • Browsing Wikipedia can also give you a good sense of the breadth and depth of any given topic: whether there's enough information on which to base an entire research project.
  • Of course, traditional encyclopedias have bibliographies too - and you know you can trust their information! Why not try searching the databases below for your topic instead?

Looking For Books: Tips

Don't neglect books in your research! Articles may seem easier because they're shorter and can be accessed online, BUT:

  • Books are much better at giving a general overview of a subject - articles are very specific.
  • Articles are usually written for experts in the field, not beginners. They're tougher reads!
  • Using a book doesn't mean you have to read the WHOLE book. Find 1 or 2 relevant chapters and stick to those - or look through the index to find which pages discuss your topic.

How Do I Find E-Books?

Kistler Library maintains access to ebooks through a number of different content providers, including many freely available open access and public domain ebooks. Users can conduct a comprehensive search for ebook titles through WorldCat Discovery, using the search box below:

Once you enter your search terms above, click GO to view your results. You may also click on Advanced Search instead to view more search options, including choices to limit your results by publication year, format, or open access status. The default index for the above search is set to Keyword, but you may click the dropdown menu to change the search index to Author, Subject, or Title, depending on the parameters of your search.

In the list of results, you will see links to View eBook under each title. By clicking on these links you will be directed straight to the content provider. Be aware that you may be prompted for a login before you are able to access any subscription-based materials.

Browse databases containing ebooks on our Database (A-Z) list. 

Looking For Articles: Tips

We have a wide variety of electronic databases to search for articles. In fact, deciding which database to use can be an intimidating challenge. Our advice:

  • For most general assignments in introductory courses, use a multi-subject full-text database: OmniFile (more often for sciences or social science) or Project Muse (more often for humanities).
  • For more advanced assignments or specific topics you can't find enough information on, try more subject-specific databases.

I Found An Article. Why Can't I Read It?

Many of the articles listed online in our databases are available in full text, but not all! Sometimes when you find an article in a database, only the citation will be listed, not a full text link to the content of the article.

When this happens, try the following steps:

  1. Search for the title of the journal that contains the article in our Electronic Journal Locator. If we have full text access to the journal through any of our databases, it'll appear in the results.
  2. Search for the title of the journal in the Library Catalog to determine whether we have it in print. It's unlikely, but it never hurts to check!
  3. If we don't own the journal in any form, you can request a copy of it through Interlibrary Loan, or try to find it at an area library.

Is Your Source Good Enough?

Why wouldn't it be?!

Sorry - but not all information sources are something you should cite in a paper! Here are some warning signs your bibliography might bring down your grade:

  • You've cited Wikipedia or a webpage you found with Google.
  • Your citations are from dictionaries or encyclopedias.
  • Your teacher asked for "scholarly sources," but you're not sure what that means, so you just used whatever.
  • One or more of your sources is less than a page long.
  • You're trying to find how to cite "something my dad told me" or "a TV show I saw" in Chicago style.
  • You're writing on political science and the book you're reading is so old it's falling apart.
  • The source you're using includes a lengthy essay on why people who disagree with the author are wrong.

What makes one resource better than another?

There's a method for determining the quality of a resource, and it has a great name: the CRAAP test.

Currency: how recent the resource is. Is the resource outdated? Does your paper topic need something written more recently?

Relevance: how much the resource has to do with your topic. Is it really about what your paper is on?

Authority: who wrote the resource and what their credentials are. Does it say who wrote it? Do they know what they're talking about? How do you know?

Accuracy: whether the information in the resource is correct. Are you sure the resources is free of errors and misinformation?

Purpose: the author's reason for writing the resource. Do they have an agenda that biases their opinion? Are they trying to educate or just entertain?

Further Reading:

I've Got Sources: Now What?

That bibliography isn't just there for decoration! How effectively you use your sources in your paper can make all the difference to your grade.

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