Dom Taylor, MA, MLIS

Peace & Conflict Studies, Philosophy, Catholic Studies, and Religion Librarian

Catholic Studies Subject Guide


CATH 1190-A01

February 26, 2019













Leverage your knowledge of how trust and citation work:

  1. A good article or book is usually based on (i.e., cites) other good articles/books (authors use 2 way obligation). In this way, a good article lets you look into the past.
  2. Unless it has been very recently published, the article/book you cite has likely been cited by others (authors attempt to create legitimacy and others use that legitimacy for their own work).In this way, a good article lets you look into the future of the original article. GoogleScholar can help with finding who has cited the article you are reading.

You need 6 relevant resources for your research essay


Although you will adapt this to your own needs and preferences over time, this is a good workflow to start with:

  1. Identify a broad topic that interests you, do some basic research, and narrow down your topic to a specific question. Narrowing can take multiple tries: (A) Catholicism in South America (New Catholic Encyclopedia[NCE]/Wikipedia)--->(B)Catholicism in Brazil (Entry in New Catholic Encyclopedia)---> (C) Liberation Theology in Latin America (NCE)-->(D) Gustavo Gutiérrez's AND Rerum Novarum (NCE --look at the bibliography).
  2. Formulate a focused research question/thesis: neither too broad nor too narrow. This is tricky and will take practice. You can start by answering "who," "what," "why," "when," "where," and "how" questions. Set some parameters (e.g., dates, geographic location, demographic information), but be ready to change them. 

Workflow (cont.)

3. From your question/narrow topic, identify keywords, including synonyms and related concepts that you can use in your search. Examples: "Latin America" and "South America" are used as synonyms (interchangeably), therefore it is important to search both terms. "Rerum Novarum" (papal encyclical on social teaching) is related to the phrase "Catholic Social Teaching," therefore it may be useful to look up both.   

4. Combine keywords, phrases, subject headings into search queries:  Try many different searches and combinations of terms. Expect that it will take at least 10 different searches to get a good feel for what is out there. Use AND, OR, brackets + quotations (""). More on this below. To start, use our basic search engine OR GoogleScholar. Note: if you use GoogleScholar look up your results in our search engine to see if it's peer-reviewed!

5. Keep track of interesting articles!




Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 1190-A01

Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 1190-A01


  2. You are wearing (jeans OR glasses)

Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 1190-A01


  2. You are wearing (jeans OR glasses)

    But you did NOT

  3. "Eat breakfast" this morning

Let's turn this into a search query

"CATH 1190-A01" 
("wearing jeans" OR "wearing glasses") 
("eat breakfast" AND morning)





A search for persecut* AND Christian* will find results that contain both terms and will exclude results that only have one of the two terms.



A search for persecut* OR Christian* will find results that contain either of the search terms. This will generate more results. Handy for synonyms.


How AND/OR work

Your turn

1. Using the library search engine, find the following resource:

Author: P.S. Davies

Journal, volume, issue, date, page #s: The Journal of Theological Studies, Volume 40, Issue 1, 1 April 1989, Pages 66–94

Topic: (Persecution OR discrimination), Christian*, ("Roman Civilization" OR "Roman emperor")

Hint: There is more than one way to locate this article.


2. List the main steps you followed to find this information. If you have time, try to find another way to locate the article.


3. Try and formulate a research question that would be appropriately broad/narrow for a research essay.


4. Discussion

Davies, P. (1989). The Origin and Purpose of the Persecution of AD 303. Journal of Theological Studies, 40(1), 66.

Takeaways from this workshop

  1. It can be helpful to start with broad sources (e.g., encyclopedias) and then narrow down your topic.
  2. Once you find one good and relevant resource, you can use it to find others. Look at the citations and using GoogleScholar you can see who has cited the article you found.
  3. Some sources, such as papal encyclicals, can be found online on organizational websites (e.g., Vatican). However, as a general rule, use sources that are found in our search engines or a peer-reviewed source in GoogleScholar. 

Limitations and what you should practice

The workshop allowed us to see how the research process works and how you can use interconnected resources to get a better picture of a given topic. However, to put this knowledge to use

  1. Experiment with topic searches. Make use of AND + OR, as well as brackets () and quotation marks (""). Get comfortable using a thesaurus to find synonyms and related terms.
  2. Try out different search engines. Start with the basic library search and GoogleScholar, but then try out some of the databases listed in the subject guide. They will all produce different results with the same search. 

Online Resources

ZotBib citation generator. This can handle multiple citation formats, including APA, but it isn't perfect, so verify the information using one of the following:

  1. Purdue OWL (reference list and in-text) and/or CitationFox (reference list only).
  2. Catholic Studies guide (some info for Catholic Studies-specific citation).
  3. UM APA 1 pager (easy to use)

Contact info

Dom Taylor


phone: 204.474.9184

book an appointment

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CATH 1990-A01: Research Workshop

By Dom Taylor

CATH 1990-A01: Research Workshop

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