Dom Taylor, MA, MLIS

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

Catholic Studies Subject Guide


CATH 2300-The Jesuits

March 12, 2019















Julian: "Is the bank open on Saturdays?"​​

Getting around the world means you have to trust people. The question is how much trust you should give and why. This depends on context.

Me: "Yes!"

Julian: "How do you know??"

Me: "I was there last year, I think."

Julian: "Do you actually know? If I don't make a payment, I'll lose my apartment"

Me: "Oh...I don't actually know. Let's check online."

Snow day

Julian: "Looks like a blizzard out. Are classes cancelled?"​​

Me: "Definitely!"

Julian: "How do you know??"

Me: "I looked out the window."

Me: "I checked the university homepage."



Vertical (close reading)

Lateral (looking at context)



Determining the meaning of the text as a standalone document. This includes:

  • Looking up definitions of complex terms, jargon, and non-English words (e.g., Latin)
  • Assessing  the internal consistency and coherence of the text. Are there contradictory facts or arguments? Are there leaps in the logic of the text (e.g., non sequitur)?
  • Identifying clear indications of meaning (e.g., a thesis statement, arguments, or beliefs)
  • Working out the structure of the text

Source: Wineburg, S., & McGrew, S. (2017). Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 3048994). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from

Determining the meaning of the text through its context. This includes:

  • Reviewing secondary sources cited/footnoted in the original text. Is the original source's interpretation accurate ? Do the secondary sources provide more meaning?
  • Reading commentary, analysis, and criticism of the original text
  • Evaluating the historico-political context of the original text and its author(s). 

2 ways of reading texts


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.


  1. Primary sources: These can be internal church documents (see: Vatican website), letters, diaries, or a variety of other documents (e.g., life of a Saint). Sometimes people say primary sources are unpublished, but this isn't always the case (e.g., some diaries and letters are published as collections; church documents are published and distributed widely). Some early texts can also be considered to be primary (e.g., Tertullian's writings). 

  2. Secondary sources: Books and articles about/on Jesuits (or related topic). Although this is not always the case, a good rule of thumb is that primary means first hand or direct accounts, whereas secondary means analysis, evaluation, and/or commentary of primary sources. Roughly speaking secondary sources are ABOUT primary sources.

You need 2 primary sources and 5 secondary sources  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 related terms, therefore it is important to search both terms. "Jesuits" and "Society of Jesus" are basically synonyms.  

4. Combine keywords and phrases 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!


Iterative thesis building + research


1. Identify the keywords in your research question/thesis. These are generally only the nouns in your question.

2. Identify synonyms and related terms for each keyword/noun.

3. Build a research query that combines these using OPERATORS (see below)

Iteration and experimentation:

Find and refer to primary and secondary sources as you are developing your research question/thesis. This will impact the keywords and even the scope of your thesis.


AND, OR, (), *, "", + Limiters



Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 2300

Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 2300


  2. You are wearing (jeans OR glasses)

Stay standing if:

  1. You are in CATH 2300


  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 2300" 
("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

 (), *, "", + Limiters

2 places to find primary sources

Workshop: Iterative topic development

In groups of 2 to 3:

1. Begin with a broad topic that you wish to write about (e.g., Jesuit missionaries in China)

2. Using the Jesuit Portal (the Essential Documents section is mostly primary sources) and/or Jesuit Historiography Online (encyclopedia articles that point to primary sources) to locate a primary source.

3. Create a basic research question/thesis that is appropriate for a 5 page essay.

4. Identify the keywords (synonyms + related terms) and combine these with operators to create a search query.

5. Find one secondary source.

Tip: if necessary, adjust your research question/thesis and search query. This is what usually happens when writing an essay.


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 2300: Research Workshop

By Dom Taylor

CATH 2300: Research Workshop

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