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RELG155: Encountering Religion

This webpage will help you find high-quality sources for your final project--the presentation to a student group--in Religion 155.

For those of you who are planning to major or minor in religion, this webpage also introduces research resources you may need for future projects.

Books and Encyclopedias - Scholarly Articles - Magazine and Newspaper Articles - Websites - Citations - Questions?

Books and Encyclopedias

Search ALiCat and I-Share to find books on your topic. Everything you know about searching those two resources still applies in the study of religion. As you evaluate the books themselves, consider their purpose and intended audience in addition to relevance, authority, and currency. Augustana has a few devotional texts, for example, mixed in among the scholarly material; you will want to know what you're looking at before you make a selection.

Augustana also has numerous high-quality encyclopedias in the reference collection. Use these for background information and/or to get started on your project.

Here is a brief outline of the religion call numbers. You can use this as a guide to browsing the reference collection, or to get an idea of what perspective a book might take that you find in ALiCat or I-Share.

BJ - Ethics
BL - Religion (general) and Mythology
BM - Judaism
BP - Islam
BQ - Buddhism
BR - Christianity
BS - The Bible
BT/BV - Theology
BX- Denominations and Sects

Because the study of religion is multi-disciplinary, you may do research in other parts of the book collection as well. For a guide to those call numbers, see the blue Library of Congress handout in the reference collection of the library.

Scholarly Articles

Find the library's religion databases via this path:

  • Library website --> Databases --> History, Religion & Philosophy --> Religion

At the top of the list of religion databases you will see a link to Ebsco Databases in Religion. This allows you to select among several of the library's religion resources, or search two or more at once. The databases you will find here are:

  • ATLA Religion Index. ATLA is the library's most important religion database. Everyone in this class will find it useful for the final project (and all classes in the religion department).
  • Index Islamicus. This is the most important database for study of the Islamic world. Use this resource whenever you are doing research on Muslims or Islam.
  • Philosopher's Index. Philosophy and religion have areas of overlap. Try this database in addition to ATLA if you need information on ethics or theology.
  • New Testament Abstracts and Old Testament Abstracts. As the names suggest, these are intended for study of the Bible. They will only be useful if you are doing a project that requires research on Christian and/or Jewish scriptures.

Also carefully read the descriptions of the other databases listed under "Religion" and "All Humanities." Databases that may be useful for this project include Bibliography of Asian Studies and JSTOR.

**Help! My article isn't available in full-text!**

An article that is not full-text in one database may be available in a different one, or in print. Follow these steps to obtain a copy of the article:

  1. On the library website, click "Journals and Magazines." Search the title of the journal in which the article you want was published. The results will tell you whether Augustana has access to the publication, what date range we have, and what format so you can obtain your article.

    If you see here that Augustana does not have access to the journal and/or the date of the journal that you need, go to step 2.

  2. On the library website, click "Interlibrary Loan." Login (or create an account if you don't yet have one), choose "Article" from the menu, and fill out the form. You can also use your interlibrary loan account to order book chapters or entire books if they are not available through I-Share.

    In some of the library's databases -- including ATLA, New Testament Abstracts, Old Testament Abstracts, and Philosopher's Index -- there is a direct link to ILL within the article record.

Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Depending on your topic, you may also need news articles or other accounts of current events.

I recommend the following databases, which you can find via this path: Databases --> Databases A-Z

Academic Search Complete. Search for your topic, then limit to "Magazines" or "Newspapers" using the links on the left-hand side of the screen. (Although ASC searches scholarly articles as well, I don't recommend it as a source of scholarly sources for this particular assignment: use ATLA, instead, which is specific to religion.)

Lexis-Nexis. This is the library's best newspaper database. It has other information (for example, law reviews and company profiles) as well, so you may want to click "Search by Content Type" and then select "All News" before you conduct a search.

Newspaper Source. Has full-text for more than 40 U.S. and international newspapers, and selected full-text for nearly 400 regional U.S. papers.


Religion, as you might imagine, is subject to a wide variety of interpretations on the web, so you will want to analyze any potential site closely before you use it for this project. What you learn will determine whether and how you use the information. Consider the following:

  • Creator/Sponsor. Was the site created by an academic? A practitioner? A religious organization? A fan, high on enthusiasm but low on actual knowledge? Someone with a bone to pick?
  • Purpose. Why was the site created? What is it trying to accomplish?
  • Audience. Who is the site trying to reach?
  • Bias. Does the site display any bias toward or against particular religious traditions? What are the site's underlying assumptions?
  • Currency. When was the site last updated, and does that matter?

Find a list of selected websites useful to religion (and other humanities) via this path:

  • Library website --> Databases --> History, Religion, & Philosophy --> Websites

Here are two sites from that list that will be useful for the final project:

Association of Religion Data Archives
This is a huge collection of national and international data, largely but not completely numerical, about religion. Within the U.S., you can find information about denominations and congregational membership. You can also find religious profiles of various countries--including both demographic information and, in some cases, public opinion data--and compare different countries to one another.

Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey
[to access, click the link to "Religious Landscape Survey" under "Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project]
"This extensive survey by the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project details the religious makeup, religious beliefs and practices as well as social and political attitudes of the American public." For the final project, you're most likely to find useful information by clicking "Portraits," then looking at the demographics, beliefs & practices, and social & political views of the group(s) you are researching.


Guides to citation styles, including Chicago Manual of Style, are at the library's "Citing Sources" page:

  • Library website --> Citing Sources (under "Research Tools")

For Chicago Manual of Style, I recommend either the print version or the link that says, "Online access to the Chicago Manual of Style." The Hacker book (which you may remember from LSFY) also has a good introduction.


As the religion librarian at Augustana, I see this class as a good opportunity to get to know religion majors and minors! You are welcome to contact me with any questions about your research for this class. My email address is, and I work at the research help desk off and on during the week.

Or, approach any Augustana librarian for help at the research help desk: in-person, or by phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the red "Ask an Augie librarian" box on every page of the library's website.

You may also request an in-depth research appointment with me or another Augustana librarian here (scroll down to find the online request form).

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated September 2014.