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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Religion: Obtaining Background Material

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in Religion

Start with overviews

The best way to start a research project is by reading overviews of your topic. An overview is a text that summarizes the basic facts about your topic.

Examples of overviews:

  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Textbooks
  • Study guides

An overview is just a starting point. Don't cite overviews. The reason why we don't cite overviews is that they don't provide any original information -- they only give you a condensed summary of what other people have said about the topic. Instead of citing an overview, read the overview and write down clues that you could search for in Quest or the library databases, to find sources that you can cite.

Clues you might find in overviews:

  • The names of important people, places, and things.
  • Other sources that you could cite (listed as citations).

General Reference Books

Bible Reference Books

Specialized Reference Books

Mythology Reference Books