Religion, Spirituality, Contemplative Inquiry and Social Action
Belzberg Library welcomes students in the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue to SFU Vancouver. This guide will help you to use our library to find research material for this topic. If you have any further questions about library services, please contact Karen Marotz, Head, Belzberg Library at 778.782.5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Research Sources for Religion, Sprituality, Contemplative Inquiry and Social Action
- Evaluating Information
- Writing and Citing
- Ask Us!
Library research involves selecting your topic, identifying the best sources and appropriate research tools, accessing the items found and evaluating your results. Start Your Research Here is a brief guide that will help you with this process.
Start your hunt for information "at home" by visiting the SFU Library home page. This gathers all the best research tools, guides and research help in one place. Try our new Library Search engine from the home page to quickly find books, articles and information on the library website in one search.
Books, articles and web sites on your course reading list or course outline can also provide a good starting point, particularly if the items include bibliographies, references or links to related material.
Search the catalogue to find all books, reports and media materials in the SFU Library at all three campuses (Belzberg - Vancouver; Bennett - Burnaby; Surrey - SFU Surrey).
- Searching by KEYWORD is generally the best way to start. Once you have found some good results with your keyword searches, use the subjects on those items to focus your search.
Try the following SUBJECT headings:
- Church and social problems
- see also Religion and social problems and specific religions, eg. Judaism and social problems
- Economic development - religious aspects
- Human ecology - religious aspects
- Human rights - religious aspects
- Indigenous peoples - religion
- Nature - religious aspects
- Peace - religious aspects
- Social action
- Spirituality - social aspects
- see also specific religions, eg. Islam - social aspects
Limit your search to items at Belzberg Library by selecting Belzberg Collection from the main search screen. You can also use ADVANCED KEYWORD search. Select Belzberg Library in the COLLECTION field to include online resources. Select Belzberg Library (Downtown/Harbour Centre) in the LOCATION field for items physically at Belzberg Library.
- If the item is not available at Belzberg Library, or is out on loan, please request it! Find electronic books, films, dvds, cds or slides on your topic by searching specific collections or by using ADVANCED KEYWORD search and selecting the appropriate format in the FORMAT field.
- For a step-by-step interactive guide to searching the SFU catalogue, see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.
- All print and electronic journals subscribed to by the SFU Library are listed in the catalogue. Electronic journals are also listed in the Electronic Journals Database by title, subject and by the association/organization who publishes the journal.
Connect to Journal Articles and Databases to find articles in academic journals, trade magazines, reports and newspapers, as well as financial and statistical data. Many indexes provide online access to the full text of the articles or allow you to directly request copies of articles through the "Where Can I Get This?" link. Browse by subject area to identify useful databases for your topic.
Suggested article databases for Religion and Social Action:
- Academic Search Premier - multidisciplinary index to academic and popular journals.
- Alternative Press Index - alternative and radical media, including concepts such as "radical theology".
- ATLA Religion Database - produced by the American Theological Library Association, it covers topics such as biblical studies, world religions, church history, and religion in social issues.
- Canadian Newsstand - fulltext of major Canadian newspapers and Canwest's small market BC papers.
- Canadian Public Policy Collection - monograph publications from policy and research institutes, think tanks, advocacy groups, government agencies and university research centres.
- CBCA Complete (Canadian Business and Current Affairs) - covers news, business, and academic sources with a Canadian focus.
- Environment Complete - major database on environmental topics including intersection of religion and environment.
- Humanities and Social Sciences Index - multidisciplinary index including religion and theology.
- PAIS International - covers political, public, economic, and social issues.
- Philosopher's Index - the premier international resource in philosophy, including ethics.
- Sociological Abstracts - major database for sociology.
- Web of Science - multidisciplinary source that includes Arts and Humanities Citation Index covering religion. It also includes cited reference searches.
- Try the same subject terms as suggested for books, or check the thesaurus or list of subject terms within the database. For help with searching databases, check Finding Journal Articles and/or Moving From Citation to Article.
- For books and articles not online or at SFU, request an Interlibrary Loan.
- Adherents.com - religious statistics for specific countries, states, provinces and specific religious groups.
- Encyclopedia of Religion - presents a cross-cultural approach that emphasizes religion's role within everyday life and as a unique experience from culture to culture.
- Religious Statistics - from the Andover-Harvard Theological Library
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy - over 2,000 articles covering world philosophies and religions.
- Statistics Canada - key source for Canadian statistics including Religion.
In addition to the library catalogue and databases, you will find a lot of good information on the web. Governments, research institutes, non-profit organizations, industry and other associations and companies all have web sites - many with publications freely available. Use a web search engine such as Google, Google Scholar or Ask.com to find additional information, including the web sites of interest groups and other organizations. Check the library's Internet Research guide for additional help in finding and evaluating web sites.
Useful sites for Religion and Social Action:
- ARC: Alliance of religions and conservation - helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices.
- Internet guide to religion - from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.
- Iona-Pacific - Inter-Religious Centre for Social Action, Research and Contemplative Practice at the Vancouver School of Theology; links to the VST Library.
- Pluralism Project - based at Harvard University, this website includes useful links to research organizations, interfaith organizations, religious organizations engaged in social action and organizations by religious tradition.
- Religion-online.org - over 6,000 articles and chapters by recognized religious scholars on topics including liberation theology, environment, war and peace, poverty, and other social issues.
- Virtual Religion Index - Meta-site that analyzes and highlights content from religion-related websites.
- Subject Research guides are produced by SFU liaison librarians to point you to the best external sources as well as providing information about publications available in the library. Try these guides for further suggestions.
Virtually all information has some sort of bias or inherent assumption about the world. Since you cannot avoid it, you need to practice looking for it and taking it into account when you form your own conclusions. Aside from watching for biases and assumptions, you also need to critically evaluate all information sources (regardless of whether the source was a book, an article, a Web site, or a person) for accuracy, currency, completeness, and several other criteria. The following list covers some key questions that you should ask of any information source and offers a few more sources for further information on evaluation. Don't despair that you will never find anything that meets all of the criteria: remember that decisions are made with such information all the time -- you just need to make a judgment call about how far out of line a piece of data is (e.g., is it so old as to be useless? is the bias extreme?) and about how much of it you can use. You should also try to find as many alternative sources/viewpoints as possible. Don't forget to clearly document any judgment calls or assumptions that you make based on the imperfect information you find.
METHODOLOGY & INTENT
Why did they conduct this study, and precisely how did they conduct it? How does this match what you think should be done? What flaws do you see in how the information was gathered? Is any of this information available? (Possibly not if the report or data you found has been published by someone other than the original researcher.)
What are the qualifications and reputation of the writer/speaker/publisher? Are they experts in their field?
Is the information presented complete or does it seem that something might be missing? An information source that deliberately leaves out important facts, qualifications, consequences, or alternatives, may be misleading or even intentionally deceptive.
Up-to-dateness is especially important for statistical or scientific data or political or socioeconomic studies.
Does the book/journal/Web page explain the sources of its information and how the information was obtained?
What units did they use? Are these the units you would have used?
Are the facts presented accurate? You may want to cross-check statistics or other facts against other sources.
Who is the intended audience for the information? Is the level of treatment academic or popular, expert, or novice?
- University Reading and Writing lists sources in the library that will help you write better papers, or check out Writing for University and the writing hand-outs from the Student Learning Commons.
- Writing and Style Guides will tell you how to cite your sources properly.
- Plagiarism will tell you what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Take the interactive tutorial Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism to test yourself and learn more.
- RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and citation database manager licensed for current SFU students. It allows you to import and export citations from numerous online databases and format bibliographies automatically. See the online Help for more information, online tutorials and FAQs.
- If you would like any further assistance or information about the library or your research, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian in person, by phone, email or interactive reference.