Religion Research Guide

Choose a topic that is interesting to you and which will work within your assignment's parameters. Usually your research goal is to locate published scholarship (books and journal articles) to read on your topic.

Remember to evaluate the accuracy of your resources, and think critically about their arguments. When in doubt, check with your Religion instructor.

Prof. James T. Mellone

Bibliographer for Religion


First, read a good summary of a philosophy topic in a philosophy encyclopedia, like those listed in the Books section. Second, once you know the basics on your topic, search for more published scholarship, such as books in the CUNY Catalog or other catalogs.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Classicial Myth & Religion (Ref. BL715 .O94 2003)
Contains short entries defining gods, myths, rituals, places, and people in classical mythology and religion.
Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World (Ref. BP40 .E525 2004, 4 vols.)
Best recent reference work on Islam, with definitions of Islamic concepts and practices, and longer essays on broad historical and social topics in Islam.
Encyclopedia of Religion (Ref. BL31 .E46 2005, 15 vols., 2nd edition)
Standard multi-volume reference work with long essays on religious topics. Some essays in the 2nd edition have not been revised from the 1987 version.
Oxford Companion to the Bible (Ref. BS440 .M434 1993)
Good source for short essays explaining the books of the Christian bible, their biblical figures and events of importance, as well as significant theological principles.
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Ref. BR95 .O8 2005)
Best one-volume reference book for short authoritative definitions of the people, places, events, and concepts of Christianity.
Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (Ref. BM50 .O94 1997)
Best one-volume reference book for short authoritative definitions of the people, places, events, and concepts of Judaism.
Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Ref. BL31 .O84 1997)
Has short entries defining religious terms, concepts, events, movements, and people.
Religion Past & Present: Encyclopedia of Theology and Religion (Ref. BL31 .R4213 2007, 3 vols.)
English translation of the 4th edition of the excellent German reference work, Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Still in the process of being published in English, the first three volumes cover letters A - Deu.

Find Books

CUNY Catalog
Search for books at the Queens College libraries, as well as other CUNY libraries.
Library Catalogs
Search the library catalogs of regional libraries such as the Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library, New York University, Columbia University, etc.
New York Public Library
Search CATNYP, the catalog of the research libraries at NYPL. Books at the research libraries are non-circulating and must be consulted on site. NYPL has one of the premier research collections in the country and is open to all New York State residents.
Search for books in the national catalog for the United States and Canada. Includes holdings from libraries in other parts of the world, primarily European or English-speaking.


Articles (Search Databases)

A journal article is written by a scholar or an expert, and provides a detailed analysis of a topic. It is written in the specialized language of a scholarly discipline (such as Philosophy). It documents the resources the writer used by providing bibliographic citations such as footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography so a reader can check or repeat the research the scholar has completed.

A scholarly journal is edited by scholars, and any article published in the journal has usually been approved by the author's peers or by referees (other scholars expert in the subject who serve as editors or readers and critique the article before it is accepted for publication). This is why most scholarly journals are referred to as a Peer-Reviewed or Refereed journals. Here is a comparison between popular and scholarly periodicals. Use the following databases to search for journal articles on a topic. You can use other Databases depending what topic you are researching.

ATLA Religion Database
Premier religion index to journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion.
Humanities Full Text
English-language journals in the major humanities fields, such as literature and philosophy, including religion. For textual and biographical critiques of an author's life and work. Abstracts to journal articles and citations to book reviews.
Literature Resource Center
Full text of summaries, reviews, critiques, biographies from authoritative literary reference books. For textual and biographical critiques of an author's life and work, including religious thinkers and theologians.
MLA International Bibliography
Citations to articles from international journals, and to essays in books. Covers literature and philosophy, including major religous writings. For textual and biographical critiques of an author's life and work, including religious thinkers and theologians.
Philosopher's Index
Scholarly research in major fields of philosophy, including ethics, metaphysics, religious thought, and theology. Abstracts to journal articles and book essays, and citations to book reviews.
Sociological Abstracts
International literature in all topics of sociology, including related social sciences such as philosophy. Covers the sociology of religion. Abstracts to journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers, and citations to book reviews.


Journals (Browse E-Journals)

25+ core journals in religion. Cover-to-cover full-text from a journal's first issue until about five years ago.
Project Muse
15+ journals in religion, from 2000-present.



Reports and studies are sometimes available from the major scholarly organizations for the scholarly study of religion.


Web Gateways

Continue your search for reports, studies, data, statistics, and information by browsing these religion web gateways.