Ten Key Databases for New Students
While you should familiarize yourself with the complete list of available databases (see listing by topic and by title), the following short list of ten will meet most of your needs, so get to know these resources first.
- Biblos, the catalog of Turpin Library, Dallas Theological Seminary. Biblos provides information about most (but not all) items owned by Turpin library, including nearly all print books, print journals, microforms, and AV materials. It lists over 15,000 ebooks. Biblos does not include records for individual essays in books, individual articles in journals, individual e-texts in big digital collections (like the TLG collection), or individual archival manuscripts.
- ATLA Religion database. The American Theological Library Association Religion database is the key database for seminarians. ATLA provides good coverage of Christianity and selective but still helpful coverage of other religions, especially Islam, Hinduism and Judaism. It indexes articles and book reviews from most major English language theological journals and from some especially important non-English journals. It also indexes essays/chapters from selected festschriften, conference proceedings and other multi-author books. ATLA covers literature on Bible, theology, church history, pastoral ministries, Christian education, and world missions. ATLA focuses on scholarly theological literature but includes a significant sampling of non-scholarly publications about popular Christian culture and church life, especially from the mainline Protestant viewpoint. (For additional coverage of popular evangelical magazines, see Christian Periodical Index.) It provides very limited and incomplete coverage of denominationally specific matters like canon law. (For example, ATLA has an agreement with Catholic Periodical and Literature Index not to duplicate coverage of the many popular RC magazines CPLI covers.) As of late 2012, about 280,000 journal articles and book reviews are available online (about 15% of the 1.8 million articles and reviews cited in the database).
- Old Testament Abstracts and New Testament Abstracts abstract journal articles and essays on the Bible, biblical languages, and history and archaeology of the biblical era. Most important English language biblical studies journals and many non-English journals are included. Abstracts are always in English. Emphasis is on scholarly literature, but some popular magazines are included. Many theological viewpoints are represented, but there is some emphasis on Roman Catholic sources. OTA and NTA are available online and also in print. As of August 2010, OTA database held 50,000 records (33,000 journal articles; 10,000 essays; 7,000 books) for literature dating from 1979 to date. As of August 2010, NTA database contained 45,000 article abstracts, 1,600 reviews, and 17,000 book abstracts. The NTA database covers publications dating from 1979. On the other hand, print vols of NTA begin with 1956. Eventually the database will be as complete as the print. The print volumes have scripture passage and Greek or Hebrew word indexes, but there are no subject headings so you must browse under broad subject categories outlined in the table of contents for subject access. For full bibliographic information, location, and call numbers of print volumes, click OTA or NTA.
- Religious and Theological Abstracts focuses on Christian theology (biblical studies, dogmatics, church history, pastoral ministries, Christian education, missions, etc.) but covers other religions, too. It provides informative abstracts for over 185,000 scholarly journal articles. Reading the abstracts is an extremely useful way to identify relevant literature and to overview a topic. RTA citations do not contain subject headings, and author names are entered in inconsistent ways, but all abstract and title words are searchable, including scripture passages in the abstracts. Although most articles in RTA are also in ATLA, RTA has many more search terms per article than ATLA (because of the abstracts). In other words, RTA gives you more opportunities to find a given article than ATLA does. RTA appears to be updated only once per year and may be as much as two years behind the journals it covers. Turpin Library owns most of the articles cited in RTA.
- WorldCat.org is a key resource for almost any topic. It contains hundreds of millions of bibliographic records for books, articles and other media. It provides nearly exhaustive coverage of English language books and significant coverage of non-English works (but limited coverage of government documents and unpublished works like manuscripts and dissertations). Use LC subject headings just like you would in the library catalog, for example: "Bible Corinthians, 1st, xv" for 1 Cor 15. Click Advanced Search for more fields and options tonarrow the search. Uses grouping and Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), but operators must be in ALL CAPS. Click on a title to see more detail about the item. Enter your zip code in the box that says "Enter your location" to locate libraries near. Click on the name of a library to search that library's catalog to see whether an item is available. Create a free account to construct lists and bibliographies. Defaults to relevance ranking, but ranks by author, title, and date as well. DTS owns only a tiny fraction of the works cited in WorldCat, but our InterLibrary Loan (ILL) department can borrow materials for you from libraries all over the United States. Allow two to four weeks delivery time.
- JSTOR includes over 1,200 full-text scholarly journals in the fields of history, archaeology, classics, the arts, literature, psychology and various sciences, education, language, and much more. Coverage of theology/religion is weak, but this database is a good complement to our religious resources. JSTOR provides complete retrospective access for each journal from the year of inception up to a recent cutoff date, but does NOT supply access to the most recent volumes. (Recent is defined by the publisher but usually means the three most recent years are not available. This is meant to protect income the publishers make from current subscriptions.) Includes articles and book reviews. You can go directly to JSTOR and search for articles. Search title, author, or full-text; limit by journal or discipline. Browse by discipline, journal, and issue. Use Boolean operators and some fancier features such as synonym expansion. Sorts by relevance, journal title, or year. You can also use Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo and MSN Live Search to find JSTOR articles. But if you are off the Dallas campus when you search via these search engines, then you will not be able to display the actual articles unless you login to the library proxy server to authenticate your relation to DTS. See our tech note on engaging the proxy authentication mechanism to display articles. This is the most confusing aspect to using JSTOR when you are off campus. It is not an issue when you are on the Dallas campus.
- Sage Online. Over 140,000 full-text articles from 400 social science journals from 1999 to date. Covers a broad range of disciplines including Anthropology, Communication and Media Studies, Criminology, Education, Family Studies, Language and Linguistics, Management, Psychology and Counseling, Social Work, and Sociology.
- EBSCO Academic Search provides indexing and abstracting for about 10,000 scholarly journals as of August 2010, including both articles and book reviews. The full-text for most articles is available online. This interdisciplinary index tries to cover everything but coverage is very unbalanced. AS is strong in the sciences but weak in theology, religion, history, philosophy, communication, and arts. Use it for sociology and social work, education, psychology and psychiatry. JSTOR is more helpful for humanities.
- ERIC (direct) and also ERIC (via EBSCO). As of August 2010, ERIC cites and abstracts over 1.3 million items in the field of [secular] education, of which about 860,000 are journal articles and 500,000 are unpublished ERIC documents, plus a few books and theses. Covers all educational levels. Does not cover religious education per se. 1966 to the present. Utilizes ERIC thesaurus for subject headings. ERIC links about a third of its records to the full-text documents through EBSCO.
- PsycINFO as of August 2010 lists 3 million citations to technical scientific literature in the field of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines including anthropology, business, medicine, education, law, linguistics, and sociology. Thorough coverage of clinical psychology and counseling. It includes citations to journal articles in dozens of languages from the 1800s to date and citations to books (1597 to date) and dissertations (1930s to date) primarily in English. Remember to use the MEDLINE database if you need access to psychiatric literature and the ATLA database if you need to find literature about counseling from a religious perspective or in a religious context.
- There are two lists of ejournals available from the library. Use these listings if you already have a citation and you want to know if the particular article is available full-text online. Use the Serial Solutions ejournal listing first. Here are some tips on how to use it. If that list fails to provide what you need, then use the TDNet ejournal list.