I’ve Got A Paper Due…So Now What?
I remember how terrified I was writing my very first paper for my very first seminary class. I came from a theater background so I felt TOTALLY lost on what exactly I was supposed to do or where to go. The assignment was to write a Bible study and I was so lost that I just wandered the library section on Bible commentaries hoping something would pop out. I ended up picking a Jerome Bible Commentary (mainly because I remembered hearing once something about St. Jerome and the Bible), which was about 50 years out of date. This makes me cringe now, but I just did not know what to do or where to go. No one told me the basics.
As I have stated before, there is certainly a new language that someone in religious studies has to pick up, but this also includes where to go for research. There are a few different ways I can follow this, but just for today I want to give you the very first few places you should be doing internet research.
Alright, so you’ve gone to the library to see what books are on your topic and you’ve got one good book. However, you know that this isn’t enough for a graduate level paper so it’s time to do some digging around the internet. There are a few places (and they will most likely all be available to you once you start going to school) that you can go to:
ATLA Religion Database: a database full of academic journal articles in the area of religion, which include articles, essays, and book reviews related to a wide range of fields.
JSTOR: this is a digital library containing digitized books, primary sources, as well as current/past issues of academic journals.
Google Scholar: this is a free search engine that has text of an array of scholarly literature.
Proquest: it took me years to pick this up, but one of the few places that you can not only get an amazing bibliography, but also the most up-to-date research are in people’s PhD dissertations. Proquest gives you access to many published dissertations and is very valuable.
Some other people may have other places that they find most helpful to do research, but these databases are usually my first stop (even before checking books out at the library). It took me quite a few years to learn the best places, but maybe my long journey can help you get to better papers faster. Happy researching!!