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A guide to resources for the study of religion.

Getting Ideas, Getting Started

Finding Scholarly Sources

Developing Keywords

The first step in a successful search is generating a list of keywords that we hope will match the kinds of information we need. In our daily lives, we do this without really thinking about it. When we Google for a restaurant menu, a how-to guide on YouTube, or driving directions, our search terms (keywords) are often obvious.

Searching for scholarly sources can be a bit more challenging, especially if we are unfamiliar with the topic, or don't know the specialized language that scholars in religion, ethics, or related fields use when describing ethical and cultural practices about food production, distribution, and consumption.

  • Brainstorm the keywords you think scholars might use in the TITLES or ABSTRACTS of books and journal articles about your topic.
  • Combine two or three keywords in OneSearch.
  • Evaluate your results.
    • Are you on the right track?
    • Do you need to test a different set of keywords?
    • Can you refine your results to just peer-reviewed articles, or sort by date, to get better sources?
  • Evaluate individual books or articles.
    • What ethical dilemma does your author identify?
    • What evidence does the author present to describe and explain the ethical dilemma?
    • What solutions, if any, does the author propose?
    • Are you convinced?
  • Think about how you might use a source in your own writing.
    • Does this source provide helpful background information so your reader better understands your topic?
    • Do you agree with some of the author's findings? Can you use this source as supporting evidence?
    • Do you disagree with some of the author's findings? How will you convince your reader that your position is stronger?

Citation Management

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