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Religious Databases: Searching Tips

Guide to databases and websites for researching religion.

Video Helps

Search Tips

Theological Perspectives

  1. Conservative viewpoints in articles - check Christian Periodical Index and the Fundamentalism File
  2. ATLA will feature scholarly journals and often articles are more broad.

Searching notes

  1. Select Advanced Search
  2. Enter your keyword in the first open line
  3. Select the subject field option or enter in the following lines terms which represent a desired perspective to your main topic. Entering additional terms will narrow your search for more specific and relevant articles.
  4. In the EBSCO databases one may select a term in the Subject box in the left column of the search screen. Selecting a term form this box will limit thenumber of results.
  5. Further limit the results by selecting full text or date ranges
  6. When searching the Fundamentalism File, click the Advanced Search tab and enter words that you would expect to see in an abstract of the article.
  7. Both ATLA and Christian Periodical Index are supported on the EBSCO platform and therefore both may be searched at the same time. However, certain features of ATLA would then not be available. Example: Scripture searching is available in ATLA, but not CPI
  8. Religious & Theological Abstracts - For Scripture search click on the Advanced Search. Use numeric numbering for designating books with the same name. Ex 2 Sam, 1 Cor 15. Abbreviate or spell out the book name.


  1. JSTOR will have limited access to recent years
  2. Social issues and religion - check Guide to Social Science and Religion. No full text online.

Searching Religious Databases


Entering Terms – Options

  • Keyword approach - enter keyword inerrancy 421 matches
  • Subject approach - two methods
    1. Select the Narrow by Subject in column on left of page
      Example: Bible-Inspiration lowers hits to 178
    2. Select Search Field Option and scroll to SU = 8 inerrancy
  • Enter a term representing a perspective to the original term. Ex Inerrancy, add authority on second line and other terms in succeeding lines.

Limiting Results

  • Entering additional terms as instructed above will narrow the scope and thus limit the results
  • Selecting Full Text will limit the results to online full text articles
  • Selecting a date range, publisher, peer reviewed or publication type are further means of limiting results.
  • Before performing a search one may limit the search from the initial search screen by placing a check in the boxes of the limiters or entering information for some selections.

Personal Account and Use of Folders

  • Click “Sign in to my EBSCO Host” and your name, and pin and other requested information
  • This personal account provides a place for storing your research via the folders you can create
  • Click on the folder icon located by each articles that you would like to read or store
  • Click on the folder icon at the top of the search screen will retrieve the page for manipulation of your folders. Then click on the link New Folder and create and name the folder. You may create more than one folder.
  • Place a check in the box by any article on the page that captured the articles of interest that you clicked on the folder by the article in your search results.
  • Select “Move” to place articles that you check in to the named or selected folder.
  • You can save searches and request alerts through your EBSCO Host account

Scripture Searching

  • Click the Scriptures tab at the top of the page.
  • The books of the Bible are listed in Biblical order
  • Click on Expand link to proceed to chapter and then to verse
  • All Scripture connected with your topic will appear in the result list.

Search History

  • Select the search history link located under the search boxes in order to view previous searches, refine or combine previous searches.


  • Click on the Publication tab at the top of the search screen will enable one to select a specific magazine/journal .
  • Enter the desired title and then click on “Search within this publication”
  • One may then read articles if full text is available or place search terms in the search fields to retrieve articles on your topic from this publication only.


  • Select the Indexes tab to browse subjects, authors, publications and more.
  • Click on the term for information notes
  • Place a check in the box of the term and click add to search your selected term.

Christian Periodical Index

  • Search and limiting procedures are the same as in ATLAS.
  • Scripture searching, publication searching and indexes are not available in CPI.
  • One can select “Choose databases” and search both ATLAS and CPI at one time. However, the special features of ATLAS are not available in the combination search.

Fundamentalism File

  • Searches similar as the online catalog for the Mack Library holdings.
  • Generally one should use the Advanced Search
  • Since the cataloging information contains an abstract of the article, one needs to consider the following.
    1. In addition to the original search term for the subject/topic, add words or phrases which may appear in an abstract for the article
    2. Descriptors portraying the view or presentation of the article are in the abstract. Examples: Fundamental, Biblical, Conservative, Liberal, Charismatic, Scholarly, Brief.
  • The articles are generally available both in the Fundamentalism File and in the Periodical stacks.


  • Search in the advanced search mode
  • Place “ “ before and after a phrase should one want the words located in adjacent position. Otherwise retrieved articles will have either term
  • One may use the Boolean operators and limit by date range, type of publication ..
  • One may also enter a search term and then select a category of publications which will then serve as the source for the search.
  • In the results, the search terms are highlighted and one can select the link for viewing pages having the search term.

Religious & Theological Abstracts

  • Search in the advanced mode for more options.
  • Menu provides for searching for all words, a phrase, at least one word
  • May limit the search by author, date range, scripture search and publication source
  • Scripture notations. Help screen for examples. Books with first or second designation - 1 John 2:15
  • Abstract of the articles only in answers, no full text.
  • Four main classifications of articles. Theology, Biblical, Historical, Practical

Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archives

  • Read full text articles from Biblical Archaeology Review, Biblical Review, Archaeology Odyssey, and some of their books
  • Select the title of publication, volume, issue, date OR browse by publication
  • Search for articles, topics
    1. Key word search or title
    2. Enter search term in subject box or click on the subject link.
    3. After clicking the subject link, an alphabetical list of subjects appear.
    4. Select the subject and submit. The term then goes to the search box. Click search. This procedure is quicker than the keyword approach.

Guide to Social Science and Religion in Periodical Literature published by the National Periodical Library

  • Select Periodical Index link on the far left column
  • The above retrieves the Power Search menu for searching for a term or phrase
  • Bibliographic citations only are retrieved
  • One may search the Triennial Index which will list all subjects in alphabetical order and the bibliographic citations under each topic

Theological Journals Online

  • Search for articles from title list of the Journals
  • Author search for articles by specific author
  • General search box - enter term or phrase, chapters of the Bible - place in single quotes
  • Search by verse - ineffective searching
  • CD ROM version - searching by verse performs better

Subject Guide

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