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BCH 408 History & Theology of the Puritans: Successful Scholarly Research

How to become an efficient and effective researcher in puritan studies.

Seven Steps to Successful Research

Use Multiple Search Terms

When conducting scholarly research, it is worthwhile to use more than one search term.

Make a list of authors, titles, and keywords that you already know.  Turn your topic into a title.  Use the keywords from the title as key search terms.  Identify synonyms, broader terms, narrower terms and related terms, alternate spellings, scientific or technical terms as well as common terms.  Consider your selected terms within their related subject hierarchies: Doctrinal Theology -> Salvation -> Christianity. 

An extremely valuable tool to further assist you in identifying good search terms is the Library of Congress Subject Headings Online (LCSH). With this search platform you can look up your common, colloquial concepts to find universally recognized subject headings.

Watch this short video tutorial instruction in using LCSH:  Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

Use LCSH Online to discover how your selected terms fit within their related subject.  For example a search for <ministry> leads to <Lay ministry> which in turn retrieves this additional terminology:

 · Variants
·         Ministry, Lay
·         Volunteer workers in church work

·  Broader Terms
·         Church work

·  Narrower Terms
·         Lay preaching
·         Lay readers
·         Lord's Supper--Lay administration
·         Lord's Supper--Lay celebration

·  Related Terms
·         Laity
·         Priesthood, Universal
·         Volunteer workers in Christian education

Last updated May 2023.

Use Multiple Databases

Efficient and effective researchers need to identify those that will provide the best resources for the needed information.

In addition to their catalogs, libraries provide a link to the multiple online databases which contain ebooks, audio books, articles, videos, theses & dissertations and more. Many of these catalogs and databases provide access to the full text of their indexed documents, some only provide the indexing along with summaries or abstracts.

To identify the databases held by the Robert L. Powell Library go to the library web site <> and select "Find Databases" under the heading "Robert L. Powell Library Resources" (see Figure 1 below).  Once there, use the alpha list or, if the name of the database is known, use the search box on the right (see Figure 2 below). Alternatively, use the Subject drop down menu to make selections from the "Best Bets" related to the subject (see Figure 3 below).

Figure 1 

Figure 2 

Figure 3


Last updated September 2022.

Boolean Logic

Select the link below to discover what is Boolean Logic and how it will make your online searching more efficient and more effective.

What is Boolean Logic?

Boolean Logic is Algebra that works with logical rather than numeric relationships.

  • Boolean algebra was introduced in 1854 by George Boole
  • Boole devised a mathematical language to deal with questions of logic.
  • Boole is now considered the father of modern information technology

Algebra comes from the Arabic al-jebr meaning "reunion of broken parts" (jebr can be pronounced either gobre or jobre)

  • Algebra uses letter to represent unknown number
  • In Algebra variables like x and y = numerical values
    • for example x + 4 = 8

Boolean Logic is a form of algebra in which the variables have a logical value of TRUE or FALSE.

  • In Boolean algebra x and y = classes of objects
    • for example x = triangles and y = circles   

Boolean Operators

AND = Can be thought of as BOTH.  It requires that both or all objects (search terms) be present in the results.  In online searching AND serves to narrow the search and is used for combining differing concepts.

OR = Can be thought of as EITHER.  It is used to find either one term or another.  In online searching OR serves to broaden a search and is used to search synonymous or closely related terms.

NOT = Can be thought of as AND NOT.  It is used to eliminate records.  In online searching it serves to narrow a search.  Exercise caution when using the Boolean NOT as needed concepts may be eliminated unintentionally.

Work smarter not harder. Ask Miss T

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Janet "Miss T." Tillman
Robert L. Powell Library
The Master's University
21726 Placerita Canyon. Rd.
Santa Clarita, CA 91321

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