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RCGJ MA Library Workshop

Course Number: RE690

Research example
Database searching tips

Regardless of what you are searching for, or which tools you use, keep in mind the following tips (although be aware that not all databases support each of these options)

  1. Develop a research question (powerpoint)
  2. Consider terminology, word variations, and synonyms
    • think about how others might refer to your ideas
    • e.g, death rituals --> death OR dying OR funeral OR mortuary 
    • Tutorial: Using search words effectively
  3. Employ various search tactics
Search Tactics


What is the tactic?

What does the tactic do?


Boolean AND

Use AND to ensure that all terms appear in every search result.

heterodox AND gnostic

Boolean OR

Use OR to ensure that at least one term appears in every search result.

Tutorial: Better searching using AND, OR, NOT 

indigenous OR aboriginal

Phrase searching

Use β€œquotation marks” to find more than one term in a row.

β€œislamic law”


Use an asterisk* at the end of a term to include multiple endings. (sometimes $)

Tutorial: Better searching using truncation


religion, religions, religious, religiosity, religousness


Use a question mark ? within a term to search for variations of a single character.


decolonize, decolonise


Use NEAR/n to search for terms within n words of each other

  • (sometimes ADJ/n)

"music therapy" NEAR/5 child* OR adolescent*

  1. Employ search limiters (available limiters depend on the database)
    • peer reviewed, article type, date
  2. Identify key publications and authors
    • note citations, and cited references, repeated author names
  3. Document and track everything you do in the steps above
Books and ebooks

Tutorial: Finding books in Omni
Tutorial: Requesting books from other libraries in Omni

  • Search with Omni
    • limit to "Books and eBooks"
    • sign in to request from other Omni libraries
    • use Scan on Demand for chapters or articles
  • Consider using WorldCat, which searches thousands of libraries around the world, and then request that item using the Resource Sharing Request Form.

Bonus tip: Search within ebook collections to search within the full text of eBooks (as opposed to searching just titles and subjects in Omni)


Tutorial: Finding scholarly articles on a topic

Search in Omni

  • limit to "Articles" and "Peer-reviewed journals"
  • article content in Omni is not chosen or curated, but dumped in, i.e, it may not have everything on a particular topic.

Databases for Religion and Culture

Other considerations

Theses and dissertations

Dissertations and theses may be considered scholarly sources since they are closely supervised by a dissertation committee made up of scholars, are directed at an academic audience, are extensively researched, follow research methodology, and are cited in other scholarly work.

However, dissertations are still considered student work and are not peer-reviewed. Always clarify with your instructor as to whether you can include and cite dissertations and theses in your research.

Grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside traditional scholarly publications. It includes reports, policy briefs and reports, major research papers, white papers, working papers, government documents, speeches, etc. 

There is no single database that covers grey literature well, so Google is helpful in cases like this. Consider the following tips when searching Google, often using these in combination:

Additional resources for RCGS students


Page Owner: Greg Sennema

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Last Updated: March 13, 2024 4:29pm