Research Seminar

Course Number: RE407

Subject: Religion and Culture

Research help

Greg Sennema photo


Scholarly sources

Tutorial: How can I tell if my source is scholarly?

Tutorial: How do find scholarly books

In general, when looking for scholarly sources, you will be consulting and citing three formats:

journal articles

Steen, Sheldon. “The Blair Martyr Project: The Passion of Perpetua and Found Footage Horror.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 31, no. 3 (Fall 2019): 183–95. doi:10.3138/jrpc.2017-0064.


Daniels, Timothy P. Living Sharia Law and Practice in Malaysia. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017.

book chapters

Bernice, Carol. "How Queer is Celibacy?: a Queer Nun's Story." in Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms, edited by Kathleen T. Talvacchia, Mark Larrimore, and Michael F. Pettinger, 48-52. New York: New York University, 2015. 

Tutorial: Finding an article when you only know the title

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. Tutorial: Developing a research question
  2. Consider 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. Search Tactics


    What is the tactic?

    What does the tactic do? Examples
    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 quotation marks to find more than one term in a row.

    islamic 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

    Wildcard 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)
    • only useful in full text databases
    "music therapy" NEAR/5 child* OR adolescent*
  4. Employ search limiters (available limiters depend on the database)
    • peer reviewed, article type, date
  5. Identify key publications and authors
    • note citations, and cited references, repeated author names
  6. Document and track everything you do in the steps above



Research example


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

note about ebooks

While Omni contains a catalogue record (author, title, etc.) of our eBooks, an Omni search does not search the full text of each book. Instead, you need to visit and search the various sites where our eBooks are stored. Some examples include:


Tutorial: Finding scholarly articles on a topic


Theses and Dissertations
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: