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REL 204: Religions of the Book: Subject Encyclopedias

Why Use Subject Encyclopedias?

An hour spent with one or more subject encyclopedias (a type of tertiary source) early on in the research process will save you hours of wasted time!  Articles in subject encyclopedias are written by scholars who have deep specialization in the topic and the articles themselves go through a stringent editing process.  Here's what subject encyclopedias provide:

  • a broad overview of a topic that is more in-depth than in general encyclopedias
  • Discussion of how scholars have approached, explored, and debated the topic over time (historiography)
  • words, phrases, names, dates, and events that can be used as keywords when searching a database
  • bibliographies in articles to find other sources (both primary and secondary)
  • cross-references to find related topics

Practical information:

  • Use the index (for print encyclopedias) or the keyword search (for online encyclopedias).  This will help you identify instances when the discussion of your specific topic is embedded within a larger discussion.

  • Print encyclopedias are located in the reference section on the first floor of the library; you can't take them outside of the library, but you're welcome to use one of the scanners in the Learning Commons to make a copy of the pages you need.

  • Online encyclopedias can be accessed from any computer with Internet access; if you are located off-campus, be sure to use the links provided on the library's website so that you'll be prompted to enter your University of Puget Sound username and password.

Subject Encyclopedias for Christianity, Islam, & Judaism