Seminar in Theological Research

Librarian's Corner

  • Books/eBooks star
  • Scholarly Articles star
  • Reference Items star
  • EBSCO Folder
  • Searching
  • Thesaurus/ Subject Headings
  • Keyword vs. Subject Search
  • Citations
  • QuickLinks

Search the Library Catalog for Books

Use broad keywords and subjects that identify your topic(s) when you search the Library Catalog. Search a variety of fields, such as those listed below. Examples:

Keyword search: eschatology and 21st century
Author search: hebert david
Subject: eschatology

Limit the Results to Reference Books
For a list of reference books, change "View Entire Collection" to "Reference Collection"

Limit the Results to eBooks
eBook titles are included in the library catalog with links to the ebook. For a list of ebooks on your topic, change "View Entire Collection" to "EBooks."

Search eBook Databases

See: apps (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) and Download option
Sample Subjects:
Christian Ethics ~98 titles
Christianity ~1,047 titles
Practical Theology ~502 titles
± arrow Create your ebrary bookshelf to save and store your ebooks, create notes, highlight text, add Web links, and more. Click to view a short list of ebrary strategies.
  • To create and access your ebrary bookshelf. Click the Bookshelf link (in the top menu bar) then enter your ORU network login to create and log in to your Bookshelf. (Your username is your ORU email address without
  • To delete ebook items, such as the ebook, highlights or notes, use the delete trash icon at the right in your bookshelf.
  • To search and browse subjects, use the "All Subjects" link at the top of the ebrary page.
  • To focus your results list, mark the checkboxes in front of relevant subjects that are shown above the title list. Then, click the "Search" button.
  • To view the most relevant chapters from all the books in your result list, click the "Chapter Results" tab at the top, above the subjects.
  • To open the ebook, click the title or book jacket image.
  • To use the Text-to-speech function: In your results list, click the "Java-based Reader" button at the bottom of any ebook title record. In the "reader," click the "Speech" tab. Highlight text to be read or just click the "Read the selected text button" for the open page to be read.
eBook Collection (EBSCO's ebook database)
Sample Subjects:
Religion ~2,202 titles
Church History ~188 titles
Church History AND (Bible or Christian) ~141 titles
How to Find Journal Articles
1) Access a database.
If you are off campus, use the Off-campus link on the library page and login with your ORU network login. (Your username is your ORU email address without
Click a database link below, or use the "QuickLinks" tab above to select other databases.
EBSCO Choose Databases
Once you are in an EBSCO database, click the "choose databases" link (shown above) to choose a different database or select and search several databases, simultaneously.
2) Search.
Use several keywords and subject headings that describe concepts in your thesis statement. Include subject headings or thesaurus terms to optimize your search results.
concept 1 AND concept 2
Jesus AND priesthood
Jesus AND "high priest" AND (Leviticus or Hebrews)
3) Evaluate your result list.
  • Sort your results list. Relevance is usually the default display so you may choose to sort by date for the most recent articles to appear at the top of the list.
  • Add limiters, such as date, peer reviewed, subjects, language, etc.
  • Limit by subject headings and subject options available in database left men
4) Evaluate the articles.
Click the title to view the full record. If available, read the abstract to see if the article is relevant to your topic. Look for additional keywords to search and (or) ways to narrow your topic. Consider the subject headings for the article. Read the bibliography.
5) Expand and improve your search.
  • First, change or edit your search query. (See the Searching tab above for search operators and how they function.)
  • Second, consider other appropriate databases. Include other theology or subject database; search multiple databases simultaneously. In the EBSCO interface, click the Choose Databases link (shown below) to select and search additional databases simultaneously.
    EBSCO Choose Databases
    Use a subject library guide for additional databases, resources and search tips see the database list. For tips on how to "Search Scripture Reference" see that tab on the Theology and Religion library research guide. 
6) Read full text.
Click HTML, PDF, Linked Full text or similar link. Or, click the Check for Full Text link to see if it is available elsewhere in the Library (i.e., in another database, hard-copy in the Library, microform).
7) Manage your information: cite sources, save articles and searches
arrow Create a Folder in EBSCO to store and manage your EBSCO information. Create a folder then sign in to your folder. Note: Items added to the default folder are NOT saved; you must be signed in to your folder to save articles.
Find Reference Materials - Print and Online

The Reference Collection includes commentaries, handbooks, atlases, theological and religious dictionaries and encyclopedias, and more. Use the library catalog and online full text reference databases to find biblical or theological reference materials.

Listed below are four options for locating Reference Materials:

  • search reference databases,
  • use the "Theological Reference Books" library guide,
  • search the library catalog and
  • browse the reference collection.

To Do: Click any option title below to expand/hide the content.

± Search Reference Databases (online materials)
Biography in Context
Full text biographies and news stories in dictionaries, encyclopedias, and journal articles about persons throughout history.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Church Fathers (CCEL) Open Access
Provides searchable full text.
Early Church Fathers is a 38-volume collection of writings from the first 800 years of the Church. This collection is divided into three series, Ante-Nicene(ANF), Nicene and Post-Nicene Series I (NPNF1), and Nicene and Post-Nicene Series II (NPNF2)."
In the ORU Library--Church Father's call number section is BR.60...LRC-R
For Church Fathers
Search: In the ORU library catalog or ebrary, try a subject search for Fathers of the Church or an author search for a church father.
See: author search-Augustine of Hippo (library catalog - author search)
See: subject search-"Fathers of the Church" (ebrary - subject search )
Credo Reference Center ORU
Full text entries for 600+ ereference books.
See: church history Mind Map example
To view book titles: Click Find a Book (top menu) then Religion (left menu).
Gale Virtual Reference Library ORU
Titles Include:
· Contemporary American Religion, 2 vols., 2000
· A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, 2005
· Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., 22 vols., 2007
Features 21,000+ entries on Jewish life, culture, history, and religion. Includes the entire 16-volume print edition of the Encyclopaedia, the Year Books and the Decennials that followed, and a distinguished selection of updates. Written by Israeli, American and European subject specialists.
Special Feature: Use the Encyclopaedia Judaica Listen icon for text-to-speech or MP3 download.
Also available in print in the library-- Call #DS102.8.E496 2007 LRC-R.
· Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2 vols., 2004
· Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, 2 vols., 2004
· Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2d ed., 10 vols., 2006
· Encyclopedia of Religion, 2d ed., 15 vols. 2005
· Encyclopedia of Religion in America, 4 vols., 2010
· Encyclopedia of Science and Religion, 2 vols., 2003
· Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, 4 vols., 2005
· New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2d ed., 15 vols., 2003, and supplements
· New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement, Jubilee Vol.: The Wojtyla Years, 2001
Jewish Encyclopedia 
Free on the Web
Also available in the library, call number DS102.8.J65 LRC-R.

± Use the "Theological Reference Books" Library Guide

Theological Reference Books Library Guide
The research guide provides lists of categorized reference materials in print and online formats. The guide identifies types of resources, such as "Encyclopedias and Dictionaries," "Biblical Studies," "Art and Symbolism," and "Practical Ministry," then lists reference book titles for each along with call numbers and links to connect to online full text reference works, when available. Use the call numbers to identify and browse relevant sections in the reference collection.

± Search the ORU Library Catalog (print and online materials)

ORU Library Catalog Examples:

  • Try a library catalog subject search for your topic. From the list of subjects that come up, click a subject to view the book titles. Change "Search in the: View Entire Collection" to "Reference Collection."
  • Try a search for:
    church*, theolog*, Christian*, religio*, bibl* or missions AND encyclopedia or dictionary

Get the Citation -- Go to the title record in the library catalog, click How do I Cite this?, and then select a citation style, such as Chicago/Turabian: Humanities. Copy/paste/edit the citation, as needed.

± Browse the Reference Collection (print materials in the library)

Books are shelved in Library of Congress (LC) call number order, so similar subjects will be shelved next to each other. Use the Library of Congress Classification Outline (select class B, then your subject area) or the ORU Modified LC Outline.

Note: Reference books cannot be checked; however, some titles may have a duplicate in the main collection that is available for checkout. Search the title you need in the library catalog to see if the book is located elsewhere in the library and availability for checkout.

Assistance is available at the the reference desk.

EBSCO Folder

The EBSCOhost folder is a personal information management tool to save articles, save searches, create citations lists, write notes, and more. It can be accessed and used in any database in the EBSCOhost platform. To use the personalized Folder feature, create a folder then sign in to your folder when you are searching in any EBSCOhost database. Note: Items added to the default folder are NOT saved.

See: EBSCOhost training video. (YouTube, 4:06 mins)

± How to CREATE Your Folder:
  • Access an EBSCO database.
  • Click Sign In in the upper right.
  • Click I’m a new user and complete the form. (You do not need to use your network login for the username or password.)
  • Click Submit.

± How to USE Your Folder to add items to save and use later:
  • Log in to your EBSCOhost folder.
  • To add an item, click on the Add icon to the right of each item in the result list.
  • To add multiple items, click Share then choose items to add to the folder.

± How to VIEW ARTICLES in Your Folder:
  • Access an EBSCO database.
  • Click Sign In (in the blue menu bar at the top). Enter your username and password then click Login.
  • In your Folder, first click an item title link for the detailed record then click PDF, HTML, or linked full text to view the full text.

± How to PRINT/E-MAIL/SAVE Folder Items:

Select an item and click the title link to view the detailed record. Then, choose from the options under "Tools" in the right menu.

Searching - Search Expressions with Subject Headings

As you begin your research, identify all the major concepts of your thesis or research topic. Then use the thesaurus or subject index to locate, explore and select descriptors for each concept of your topic. Add relevant keywords and continue to edit your search, as needed.

Click a sample topic/question below to expand/hide the content.

± What is the impact or significance of social media for ministry and churches?

In the Communication Source database:

  1. Click Thesaurus (in the top menu bar).
  2. Key in social media in the Browsing text box and select a browse function, such as Relevancy Ranked. Click Browse.
  3. From the list,
    -- To display details of a term, click the term to view details such as broader and narrower terms and the scope note.
    --To add terms to the search, mark the box(es) in front of the term(s), click the Add button to move the thesaurus terms into the search text box, and then click Search at the top of the page.
  4. Click Search or browse for another descriptor to add to the search string. EBSCO Thesaurus

± How did Paul's missionary journeys influence the Gentiles?
Paul AND mission AND gentile (keyword search; ~858 results in ATLA)
DE "Paul, Saint, Apostle --Journeys" (subject Paul's missionary journeys; ~304 results in ATLA)

Click a sample search expression below to view the results in the database.


Operator (Boolean)
Use key terms for searching
AND   Use to search different concepts together; produces fewer results.

children AND evangelism

OR Use to link similar terms; group with parenthesis; produces more results         (children OR child) AND (evangelism OR evangelize)
NOT Use to specify a term you do not want in the search results.

        (children OR child) AND (evangelism OR evangelize)
NOT school

Excludes results with school.

Truncation (*) Searches the ROOT of a word ended with *

        child* AND evangel* NOT school*

Searches: child, children, evangel, evangelism, evangelical, evangelized, etc.
Excludes results with school and schools.

Use fewer concepts Increases number of results child* AND evangel*

Searches: child, children, evangel, evangelism, evangelical, evangelized, etc.

Use more concepts Decreases number of results         child* AND (outreach OR evangel*) AND inner AND city
Phrase Search Use quotation marks; Refines search         child* AND (outreach OR evangel*) AND “inner city”
AND “New York”

Proximity Search:

NEAR: Finds words that occur "near" a specified range of each other. Use when only word RANGE is important.
inner city N5 new york

Searches: inner-city in New York or New York's inner city

Proximity Search:

WITH: Finds words that occur near a specified range of each other. Use when word ORDER and RANGE are important.

inner city W5 new york

Searches: inner-city in New York but not New York's inner city
Subject Field
Some database may include any or all three. Subject fields, indexes and thesauri are specific and unique to a database and its content. Respectively, they are used to divide information in related subjects, categorize and group database content, and offer collections of "controlled vocabulary" that includes synonyms, related terms, and narrower and broader terms.
Look for limiting options on the database search screen.
Examples: Full text • peer reviewed • date • related terms • language • subjects
Thesaurus/Subject Headings

Subject headings, thesauri and descriptors, also called "controlled vocabularies," are lists of pre-defined, carefully selected words and phrases that describe the general content of a book, an article, an essay, or other information unit. Each database has a unique list of controlled vocabularies. For example, in ATLA Religion database the indexes include "Author," "Scriptures," "Name as Subject," "Subjects All," and more.

As you search, use controlled vocabulary to browse related topics on your subject, get ideas on how to narrow a broaden topic and get targeted, relevant results. 


  1. Identify the major concepts of your thesis or research topic.  
  2. Go to ATLA Religion Database.
  3. Use the subject index or thesaurus to find descriptors for each concept of your thesis statement. Then, combine subject and keyword searching.

    -- Click the Indexes link in the blue top menu bar. View
    ATLA Index Link

    -- For "Browse an Index" choose Subjects All.
    ATLA Index List

    Key in your term in the "Browse for" text box. Click the Browse button. 
  4. Review the list of terms.
    ATLA Indexes
    --Click the checkbox in front of the terms(s) to include in your search.
    --Click the Add button to move the terms into the search text box.
  5. Click Search.
    Add other terms to your search.
    Use the "Subject" limiter in the left menu.
Searching Keyword vs. Subject Headings

Whereas the common keyword search is based on an exact word match, a subject or thesaurus search locates records by assigned subject or descriptors. Searching with controlled vocabulary in a subject index or thesaurus allows you to more precisely retrieve relevant information on your topic, illustrates relationship between related terms and identifies synonyms and broader and narrower terms.

Keyword and subject terms searching can be combined. For example, rather than guessing what keywords to use consider doing a thesaurus (controlled vocabulary) search first. Review and assess your results. Then, add a keyword search to the query or use Search History to combine searches.

TRY THIS: Compare the results for a keyword and subject search in the same database.

  • Go to
    ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials or
    Academic Search Complete.
  • Do a keyword search for a term that describes your topic. Review the results.
    Note: For a keyword search, use the default, "Select a Field (optional)."
    Example: st augustine (~855 results, in ATLA Religion)
  • Now try a subject search for the same concept.
    For example, in the ATLA Religion database
    1) Click "Indexes" in the top menu bar.
    2) For "Browse an Index" choose Subject All, or other relevant index.
    3) Key in the same term used for your keyword search. Click "Browse."
    4) Browse the list of subjects and mark those that are relevant. Click the Add button to enter the subjects (ZU) into the search text box.
    Example: Subject All -- augustine, saint, bp of hippo (~1,394 results, in ATLA Religion)
  • Compare the results.

Most databases have tools that create citations in several formats, such as MLA, APA and Turabian. Try the tools listed below to copy/paste/edit citations, as needed to match your assignment requirements. Always check the citation references for accuracy with the ORU Research & Writing Manual (choose the Bibliographic Examples tab) and your professor's requirements. Once you have set up your RefWorks account, login, and then look for "export" options to send the citations into RefWorks.


If you use a book from the library, do a title keyword search in the library catalog, access the record, and then click How do I Cite this? (circled in the image below) Select the correct citation style, such as Chicago/ Turabian, then copy/paste/edit the citation.

Library Catalog citation link Go there.



For a single citation in an EBSCO database, click the article title to access the detailed record. Click the "cite" button in the right toolbar then choose the recommended style. (The "Tools" menu is only available on the detailed item record; it is not on the results page.) Copy, paste, and edit the citation to match the Research & Writing Manual style requirements. (See the comparison at the end of this page.)

EBSCO citations Go there.

For multiple citations use the EBSCO folder:

The EBSCO Folder is a personal information management tool to save articles, save searches, create citations lists, write notes, and more. Create a folder then sign in to your folder. Note: Items added to the default folder are NOT saved.

  1. After you add the articles to the folder, click Folder has items at the top of the page.
    In the folder:
  2. Click checkboxes to mark items to be cited.
  3. Click the Print icon (in the right toolbar).
    In the Print Manager window:
  4. Uncheck HTML Full Text box and Search History, if showing and checked.
  5. Choose a Citation Format.
  6. Click Print (items are reformatted for printing). Print or cancel, then save or copy/paste/edit the citations.


Examples below provide a content comparison between an EBSCO citation for Chicago/Turabian, Humanities style and the ORU Research & Writing Manual style. Edit EBSCOhost citations accordingly. Please note that the citation examples below do not include proper indentation.

Online article: Righteousness, Human and Divine by Carl Graesser.

Example of EBSCOhost citation format for Chicago/Turabian Humanities:

Graesser, Carl. "Righteousness, human and divine." Currents In Theology And Mission 10, no. 3 (June 1, 1983): 134-141. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2014).

Sample citation from the ORU Research & Writing Manual (online version, p. 100; print, p. 99) and as updated by Dr. David Hebert:

Graesser, Carl. “Righteousness, Human and Divine.” Currents in Theology and Missions 10, no. 3 (June 1, 1983): 134-141. ATLA Religion Database, EBSCOhost (23 January 2014).

Database QuickLinks

More Information = vendor's database description

RefWorks - Store and manage bibliographic information in one database--your RefWorks account. Click the RefWorks link above for more information. Create a RefWorks account.