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REL 325 Jesus of Nazareth and the Synoptic Gospels

Professor Thomas Spring 17

Small Group Sessions

  • Topics Covered will include
    • Keyword searching/controlled vocabulary vs using natural language
    • Use of Boolean operators
    • Searching Databases vs Open web
    • Resource management/Citations
    • Review source evaluation and matching research need with types of sources.


Small Group Sessions:

Wednesday Feb 8th 10:00-11:00 am Will be held in GRW 100 (Lounge on First floor, by Cafe 1905)

Wednesday Feb 8th 6:30-7:30 pm - Will be held in GRW 316

Thursday Feb 9th 2:30-3:30 pm - Will be held in GRW 316


Keyword searching utilizes the most important words from research question.  Get rid of the small words and keep the main ideas. For example if you use one of the examples from the course syllabus: "Jesus' Attitude toward the Ritual Law of Judaism" .....the keywords or phrases would be Jesus, Ritual Law, and Judaism. Think about how to use those keywords in a search and if boolean operators would help.

Boolean operators define the relationship between search terms.

  • AND searches for all of the search terms. The AND operator limits the search because the sources in the results must contain both terms. (cars AND trucks)
  • OR searches for either of the search terms. The OR operator expands the search because the sources in the results can contain either term. (cars OR trucks or automobiles)
  • NOT excludes the search term immediately after the NOT operator. The NOT operator limits the search because the sources in the results cannot include the term following the word NOT. (cars NOT trucks)

Here is a series of Venn diagrams to show you how the Boolean operators limit or expand searches.


After you have determined your keywords from your research question your search may begin!!

The video below describes how the keywords you've chosen are used to determine what will show up in your results.  How that works in an academic database or the library's catalog is different than when conducting a Google search. 

Evaluating information is crucial at all times, but especially so when you are conducting research.  Below are some criteria in which to judge the sources that you find.  Keep in mind that information needs vary greatly. There are times when you need the most up to date information such as in the sciences or medical fields but in historical studies examining the Authority, Bias, Depth and Relevance are going to be most important.


  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?


  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group) ?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?


  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?


  • What sources did the author use in preparing this presentation?
  • What is the scope of the research presented?


  • Does the author offer evidence, in the form of primary and secondary sources, to support his/her assertions?
  • Is the information over-simplified and emotionally charged or logically investigated?
  • What is the author's intent? To inform, persuade, sell, entertain?


  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous scholarship?


  • How deeply does the author explore the subject matter?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?


  • What will this particular source add to your research?
  • Does the source inform your argument, or answer questions posed by your topic.
  • How does this source work with the other resources you will be using?

evaluation criteria originally created by Colby College

(the logo is the link)

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