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THEO 2710 Foundations for Educational Ministry (J. Keuss)

Tip Sheet

Where to Search (cf. How to Search, at bottom)

To Find Articles, you may have to search a number of different databases, depending on the type of theological, philosophical, social science (communication, psychology, sociology), education, and/or health sciences research you are looking for or think likely to prove relevant.  For a starter-list of the disciplines in question and the principal SPU indices to the literature in any one of them, see the boxes below.  See also the subject guides at the University of Washington.

Note that in addition to searching them separately (which is the most effective way to search by official subject heading or descriptor, as distinguished from keyword), you can also search more than one EBSCOhost database simultaneously on the one hand, and more than one ProQuest database simultaneously on the other.  For more information on how to do this, see All of the Above and More Besides (Indices Multidisciplinary).

Theology and Religious Studies

For a list of indices to the scholarly literature in theology and religious studies, go here.  Focus on the ATLA Religion Database with Serials (ATLAS) above all.

The ATLA Religion Database "Thesaurus" is here:

Thesaurus terms


Start with Communication and Mass Media Complete.

The Communication and Mass Media Complete Thesaurus is here (and the same is true for all of the other EBSCOhost databases below, unless otherwise specified):

Thesaurus terms


For a list of indices to the scholarly literature in education, see under Education Database List here.  Focus on Education Full Text and your preferred version of ERIC (which is available via four different interfaces) above all.

Health Sciences

For a list of indices to the scholarly literature in the health sciences, go here.  Focus on MEDLINE and CINAHL Plus above all.

The CINAHL Thesaurus is here:

Using CINAHL Subject Headings

The MEDLINE Thesaurus is here:

 Use MeSH


For help with PhilPapers, go here.  PhilPapers does not offer a Thesaurus.


For a list of indices to the scholarly literature in the health sciences, go here.  Focus on PsycINFO above all.


Start with Sociological Abstracts.  But you may also have an occasional use for Social Services Abstracts.

The Sociological Abstracts Thesaurus is here:

Thesaurus terms

All of the Above and More Besides

Academic Search Complete, Research Library Complete, JSTORGoogle Scholar, and others, cover many different fields of study simultaneously, though not usually as well in any one given field as the discipline-specific indices listed above.

Note also that all EBSCOhost databases (the bulk of those listed above), and all ProQuest databases (Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, Research Library Complete, etc.), can be searched simultaneously (though that is not the most effective way to search any given one of them by official subject heading or descriptor).  See the screenshots below:

Searching more than one EBSCOhost database simultaneously:

Choose Databases


Choose Databases

Searching more than one ProQuest database simultaneously:

Limit Databases


Limit Databases

How to Search (cf. Where to Search, at top)

Pick the best database(s).  Ask yourself "Which academic disciplines seem likely to be the most interested in the topic I've chosen as I plan to approach it?"  If you use a multidisciplinary database, or opt to search two or more databases simultaneously, don't begin with the Subject field, for the simple reason that official subject headings or descriptors can vary from discipline to discipline, and database to database.

Try the phraseology used by Dr. Drovdahl, placing it in the Title or the keyword (EBSCOhost:  Select a Field; ProQuest:  Anywhere) field.  Use quotation marks (" ") to hold a phrase together as a phrase.  Don't enter it in a Subject field until you know that it is indeed an official subject heading or descriptor in (all of) the database(s) you've chosen.  Then analyze your results.  Watch for (and keep track of) official Subject headings of particular relevance.  (These some databases will automatically suggest.)

Searching EBSCO Databases

You may wish to exclude Dissertations from your results,

Limit to Dissertations

or (by selecting either Linked Full Text or SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIV under Advanced Search, or both) limit your search to material available via SPU:

Check for Full Text

Then break the concept down into clusters, and supply synonyms.  "Faith development", for example, might conceivably be broken down into

  • "faith" terms (faith OR trust OR belief* OR Christian* OR religio* OR spiritual* OR . . .) on the one hand, and
  • "development" terms (develop* OR grow* OR formation* OR matur* OR mentor* OR stage* OR . . .) on the other.

An asterisk (*) would ensure that all forms of the word after that point (religio*) are returned (religion(s), religious, religiosity, etc.), and one would enter each cluster (separated by ORs) into a different box, link the boxes via ANDs, analyze oness results, and watch for (and keep track of) any additional official Subject headings of particular relevance.

I give that last breakdown as an illustration of the principle only.  That particular search is, however, ineffective, at least in PsycINFO.  It broadens the search too much, and thus introduces too many hits unrelated to the specific concept of "faith development".

So at this point I would try another database, in this case the ATLA Religion Database, where, as it turns out, "Faith development" is (as in the book catalog) an official Subject heading.  Thus, whereas "Faith development" returns only about 120 hits in the TI Title field and none in the DE Subject field of PsycINFO, it returns over 90 in the TI Title but more than 800 hits in the SU Subjects field of the ATLA Religion Database, over 270 of those in English located in Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals:

Subject Term Search

Then try something similar, but using the official Subject headings you've identified:

Then try the Thesaurus:

Experiment.  For example, use the Title or keyword fields and Subject fields simultaneously, as appropriate.

PsycINFO allows you to delimit by age group:

For more information from the two major database vendors used by SPU, namely EBSCOhost and ProQuest, see:

Searching EBSCO Databases


ProQuest Help

ProQuest Help