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RELIGIOUS STUDIES: SUBJECT GUIDE: Getting Started

Starting points for research in Religion & Ethics

Buddhism

Christianity

See also The Cambridge History of Christianity for excellent overviews.

Hinduism

Subject Encyclopedias, Handbooks & Overviews

Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and overviews are scholarly works written by experts on a variety of topics. The articles are typically longer and more detailed than general encyclopedias. The background information provides a good starting point as you begin the research process. These resources can help you with:

  • Understanding the scope of a topic
  • Suggesting ideas for narrowing a topic
  • Identifying key concepts, terms, dates and names
  • Listing subject areas related to a topic
  • Recommending sources for further exploration

Start with The Encyclopedia of Religion and then consult more religion- or topic-specific reference works, as needed. 

Note:  There are many more specialized reference works in the disciplines of religion and ethics than are listed on this page.  If you're not finding what you need, email the Humanities Librarian for more suggestions!

Ethics & Bioethics

Islam

Judaism

What's a tertiary source?

Tertiary sources are excellent starting points!  They consist of information synthesized from primary and secondary sources.  Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks

These resources give you succinct overviews of your topic, explain scholarly arguments, point out interesting questions, and refer you to especially key sources. 

World Religions