ATLA Religion Database Tutorial

Open ATLA Religion Database

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Tutorial Instructions

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 Welcome!

In this tutorial, you will learn how to search ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials, a subject-specific database available through the GSU Library's website.

Tutorial Instructions

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Navigating this Tutorial

In this left frame are the tutorial instructions and on the right is the live website of the ATLA database.

Use the red arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.

You can click the Contents button at the top right of this frame to skip to another section of the tutorial.

Tutorial Instructions

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This tutorial is interactive and you will be able to search ATLA in the screen to the right.

When you need to search the database you'll see this picture of Pounce:

 

Tutorial Instructions

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What You Will Learn

After completing this tutorial you will be able to:

  • Perform keyword searches
  • Manipulate your results using expanders and limiters
  • Save, print, and email your results
  • Find the full text of cited articles

What is ATLA Religion Database?

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ATLA Religion Database is a subject-specific bibliographic database that provides access to citations for journal articles, books, book chapters, and book reviews in all subject areas of religion and theology, covering major religions, faiths, and denominations.

You can think of ATLA as one big bibliography of what has been written in the field of religion, religious studies, and theology during the past 70+ years. The database is produced by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA).

The resource contains:

  • over 667,400+ journal article citations published since 1949 from more than 300+ journal titles.
  • 267,300+ essay citations
  • 612,100+ book review citations
  • 301,900+ book citations

Topics covered in the database include:

  • the Bible, archaeology, and antiquities;
  • human culture and society;
  • church history, missions, and ecumenism;
  • pastoral ministry;
  • world religions and religious studies;
  • theology, philosophy, and ethics

What is ATLA Religion Database?

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Additional Information about ATLA

ATLA is international in scope and includes publications in 60 different languages. Because it is international in scope, not every article will be available in English. Some articles will be in other languages, such as German, Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, etc. There's a way to filter these other languages out of your results. How to do so will be discussed later on in the tutorial.

Many, although not all of the articles cited in ATLA are available full text.  For those that are not available full text, you may be able to locate the full text from another database through the ATLA database. This will be discussed later on in the tutorial as well.

While the database is good to use when searching for information on historical and theological topics, it is not as good to use for locating information on contemporary topics and debates within religious studies. For more contemporary information you should consult the Religion & Philosophy Collection database. In addition, since religious studies is a multi-disciplinary subject, you may need to consult databases in other subject areas, such as history, sociology, psychology, women's studies, etc.

What is ATLA Religion Database?

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Before continuing, please review what you've learned so far by answering the following questions:

ALTA is what kind of database?

ATLA only allows you to search for citations of articles published in scholarly journals.

All of the articles cited in ATLA are available full text through the GSU library.

All of the articles cited in ATLA are available in English.

Why Use ATLA?

You would use ATLA when you need to:

  • Determine what has been published on a particular topic.
  • Determine what has been published by a particular author, religious studies scholar, or theologian.
  • Locate full text articles published in scholarly journals.

How to Access ATLA

For this tutorial, ATLA is already placed in the right-hand frame for you.

To access ATLA in the future:

  • Go to the library homepage
     
  • Click on the Discover tab
     
  • Go to Databases by Name A-Z

  • Click on the letter A and scroll down to ATLA Religion Database with Serials and click on the link.

Note that if you are off-campus you will need to enter your Campus ID and Password before you can access the database.

Remember that you must access ATLA through the GSU library's website. Do NOT try to access the database from another university library's website.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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As shown in the right-hand frame, when you first access ATLA you will be taken to the Basic Search page where you will find a single search box.

From this page you can conduct simple searches, but you will get better results if you use the Advanced Search option.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Your Task:

  • In the frame to the right, navigate to the Advanced Search page in ATLA, by clicking on the Advanced Search link underneath the Basic Search search field.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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The frame to the right should now be on the Advanced Search page.

Before continuing, let's look at the options you have on this page that allow you to conduct more complex searches.

First, you will see that when using Advanced Search you are provided with three search boxes, as opposed to the single search box provided in Basic Search.

Note that you can add additional search boxes by clicking the plus sign to the right of the bottom search box:

You can delete search boxes you've added by clicking the minus sign:

In addition, the words (search terms) you enter into the search boxes in Advanced Search can be combined in a variety of ways to create more complex searches. This will be discussed in more detail later on in the tutorial.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Your Task:

  • Using the Advanced Search page in the frame to the right, click on the plus sign to the right of the third search box to add one additional search box. Then, click on the minus sign to remove it.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Search Modes & Expanders

Directly below the search boxes in Advanced Search you will see options for Search Modes & Expanders. The options here allow you to change how the words you enter into the search boxes are searched by the database.

Boolean/Phrase is the default search mode. This will be sufficient for most searches, so you are advised to leave it as is. As you gain more experience, you may want to explore the other options.

To the right of the search mode options is a box you can click to apply related words. By clicking this box you are telling the database to search for synonyms and other terms related to the words you entered in the search boxes at the top of the page. Unless you are looking for something very specific that doesn't require the use of alternate words, it is usually a good idea to click this box.

You can also click the box to search for the words you enter into the search boxes within the full text of articles. Using this option may provide you with more results, however, because the words may only be mentioned in passing in the full text of the article, some of the results may not be relevant to your topic.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Limiting Your Results

Below the Search Modes & Expanders you will see several options that allow you to limit your results.

You can limit your results to:

  • Full text articles only
  • Scholarly (peer-reviewed) Journals
  • Year published
  • A specific publication type, such as an article, book, essay, multi-media item, or (book) review.
  • A specific genre, such as Bibles, bibliographies, biographies, conference proceedings, hymnals, hymns, service, etc.
  • Abstract available
  • Open access materials (materials that are freely available on the internet)
  • Journal title
  • Language
  •  Images

The limiters you use depends on the type of information you need to find.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Which Expanders & Limiters Should You Use?

If you are looking for articles published in scholarly journals (the primary reason most students use ALTA), you should choose:

  • Apply related words from the Expanders options.
  • Scholarly (peer-reviewed) Journals in the Limit your results area.
  • Article from the list of Publication Types in the Limit your results area.
  • English from the list of languages in the Limit your results area.

In addition, some of your teachers may ask you to locate articles published within a specific date range. If this is the case:

  • Use the Year Published date options in the Limit your results area to limit your search to the range your professor has requested.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Which Options Shouldn't You Use?

It is highly suggested that you NOT use the following limiters:

  • Full Text: If you use this option you will limit your results to only those articles that are available full text within ATLA. However, if you limit your results to only articles that are available full text within ATLA you may filter out of your results many excellent articles that might be useful to you. It's important to note that even though an article may not be full text in ATLA, it may be full text in another database. There is a way to find some of these articles via ATLA. More on this later on in the tutorial.
  • Abstract Available: An abstract is a short summary of an article. Not all articles cited in ATLA include an abstract though, so if you limit your results to only articles that include an abstract, you may filter out of your results many excellent articles that may be useful to you.

If you need help using these options or need additional information, click the Help link in the upper-right-hand corner of any page in ATLA.

How to Use the Advanced Search Option

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Please answer the following questions:

You should always limit your search to Full Text Articles only.

An abstract provides you with:

Searching ATLA

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Before continuing, it's important to know how to use the three search boxes in Advanced Search. The following tips will help you obtain the best results:

  • Keep your search terms brief and concise. Don't use more terms than you need to describe your topic. Using more terms could significantly reduce the number of results you obtain.
  • Check your spelling. Unlike Google, library databases do not correct spelling errors.
  • If your first set of search terms doesn't retrieve any results, try your search again using synonyms or alternate words to describe your topic. Different search terms will produce different results, so you may need to try different ones in order to find the information that is most useful to you.
  • You can search for different forms of a word (different word endings of the same word), by typing the first few letters followed by an asterisk. Example:

caus* will search for cause, causes, causation, causality, etc.

  • In some databases it helps to use double quotation marks around two or more words to search for the words as an exact phrase (as opposed to individual words). Example:

"problem of evil"

Try your search both ways (with quotation marks and without) to see which method gives you the best results.

Searching ATLA

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Using AND and OR

  • Use the connecting words AND and OR to narrow or broaden your search. (Note that these words must be typed in all capital letters). Examples:

faith AND belief - Will search for articles that include both terms. This will narrow your search to only those articles that include the terms you connect with the word AND. Keep in mind that the more words you connect with AND the fewer results you may retrieve.

faith OR belief - Will search for articles that contain either term. This will broaden your search to include articles that include either term or both terms. The more words you connect with OR the more results you may retrieve.

Searching ATLA

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Your Task:

In the frame to the right, type the words faith AND belief into the first search box in Advanced Search, like this:

 

Then, click the Search button. You should retrieve approximately 17 citations.

Next, type the words faith OR belief into the first search box in Advanced Search, like this:

Then, click the Search button. This time you should retrieve approximately 358 citations.

As you can see from this example, connecting words with AND produces fewer results (narrows your search), while connecting words with OR produces more results (broadens your search).

Searching ATLA

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In addition, by default, the three search boxes in Advanced Search are connected with the word AND. You can change this by clicking on the downward facing arrow to the left of the 2nd and 3rd boxes. Your choices are:

Here is an example using AND between two search boxes:

This will narrow your results to only those articles that include the terms "free will" and "augustine."

And here is an example using OR between two search boxes:

This will broaden your results to locate those articles that include either faith or belief or both terms.

Notice that NOT is also an option, however, there are so few times that you would need to use this option that it won't be discussed in this tutorial.

You can also use the words AND and OR within a single search box to construct more complex searches. An example would be:


Searching ATLA

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Please answer the following questions:

Using the word AND between two search terms will:

Using an asterisk at the end of the stem of a word will:

Placing two words within quotation marks, such as "moral responsibility" will:

Searching ATLA

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Let's try a search to demonstrate how to locate articles on a specific topic.

Suppose you want to look for articles that discuss:

The pacifist views of John Yoder

Here's one way to search for information on this topic using Advanced Search.

Notice that, for the most part, you do not need to enter the first name of the theologian or historical figure for which you are looking for information; only the last name is needed in most cases. You also do not need to capitalize the first letter of a person's name.

Notice also, the use of the asterisk and the word OR in the first search box. As a reminder, placing an asterisk after the stem of a word will search for multiple word endings. In this case pacific* will search for the words pacifism, pacifist, and pacifists.

Also, typing the word OR (in capital letters) between two search terms/phrases will include either term or both terms in your search results. In this example, the words peace and nonviolence are both ways to express the concept of pacifism, so it makes sense to include them as search terms.

Searching ATLA

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Your Task:

  • Type the words shown below into the search fields exactly as shown.

  • Then, from the Search Modes and Expanders area of the screen, click on the box next to Apply related words.
  • Then, from the Limit your results area of the screen, click on the box next to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.
  • Also choose Article, from the list of Publication Type choices, and English from the list of Language choices.
  • Then, press the Search button near the top or bottom of the screen:

Interpretting the Results

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You should now see a list of results in the right-hand frame based on the words that you entered into the search fields.

Notice:

  • The list of results is divided into separate citations. This particular search should have yielded around 60 (+/-) citations, each of which is numbered.
  • The icon to the left of the citations indicates that each of the citations is for an article that was published in a periodical (a periodical is library term for a newspaper, magazine, or scholarly journal published at regular intervals).

  • Each citation provides you with the title of the article, the author(s), the name of the journal in which the article was published, the volume and issue numbers, and the date the article was published.
  • Beneath each citation is a list of Subjects, which tell you what the article is about. You can use these subject terms in the search boxes to more narrowly define your results.
  • If an abstract (a brief summary of an article) is available, you can read it by hovering your mouse over the magnifying glass on the right-hand side of the page (please note that not all citations include abstracts):

Interpretting the Results

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In addition, full text options for each article are noted below the citations. Articles that are available full text from within ATLA will include a PDF Full Text link directly beneath the citation:

If you don't see a full full text link, try clicking on the following button:

Clicking on the Find It@GSU button will open a new window, presenting you with three possible options for locating the full text:

1. Full text online
2. We may have a copy in print
2. Request this item through Interlibrary Loan

If the full text is available online, you simply need to click on the Full text online link. Here's what the link will look like.

Notice that the Find It@GSU service will inform you from which database the full text is available. In this example, the article is available from a scholarly article database called JSTOR.

If the full text is not available you will need to either:

  • Look for another article,
  • Check to see if the library has a copy of the article in print, or
  • Request a copy of the article through the library's free interlibrary loan service. If you decide to request the article via interlibrary loan, the find it service will lead you to the interlibrary loan webpage and help you request the article from another library.

Interpretting the Results

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Your Task:

  • Using the results for the Yoder search in the frame to the right, find citations that are not available full text in ATLA (these will be citations with the Find It@GSU button beneath them). Then,click on the Find It button for a few of these citations and see if you can locate the full text of the articles.

Interpretting the Results

4 of 4Please answer the following questions:

Hovering your mouse over the magnifying glass icon will:

If the full text of an article is not available in Philosopher's Index you should:

Refining Your Results

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If you get too many or not enough results you may need to refine your results. You can refine your results in a number of ways from the results page.

Near the top of the left-hand side of the page, you will see the search terms and limiters you have already applied to the page:

You can remove any or all of the limiters by clicking the blue "x" next it. Removing one or more limiters should provide you with more results.

Or, you can limit your results even further in the following ways (also on the left-hand side of the page):

Refining Your Results

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In addition, you can resort the list of results by clicking on the downward facing arrow next to the word Relevance on the top, right-hand side of the results page. Your options are:

Choosing Date Newest is always a good option when you are looking for the most recent articles published on a topic.

Refining Your Results

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Your Task:

  • In the frame to the right, using the results for the Yoder search, resort the results list by clicking on the Date Newest option. Try some of the other options to see how the results list can be resorted in a variety of different ways.

Refining Your Results

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Refining Your Results Using Field Options

Another way to refine your results, is by using the options available from the Select a Field options available to the right of each search box.

The database provides you with many options, including:

The best options to use from this long list include:

  • TX All Text: Choose this option to search for your search terms in the full text of the articles in the results list. Choosing this options may increase your results, so use with caution.
  • AU Author: Choose this option if you want to locate articles written BY a specific author, theologian, or religious scholar. For example, in our sample search, if you were looking for articles written by John Yoder on the topic of pacifism you could choose the AU Author option next to the search box in which you typed Yoder to locate articles written by John Yoder.
  • TI Title: Choose this option to search for your search terms in the titles of the articles. This is a good way to narrow your results, however, you may filter out many good articles on the topic that do not include your search terms in the article titles.
  • SU Subjects: Choose this option to search for the search terms in the subject descriptors of the articles. The subject descriptors are supplied by the authors of the articles and tell you what the article is about. Using this option will narrow your results.
  • NA Subject Name Personal: Choose this option to search for proper names as a subject. Doing so will narrow your results to just those articles in which the author of the article has designated a proper name as a subject descriptor. Using this option will narrow your results. For example, in our sample search, if you were looking for articles written ABOUT John Yoder and his views on pacifism you could choose the NA Subject Name Personal option next to the search box in which you typed Yoder to locate articles written about John Yoder. Note, however, that you may filter out a lot of good articles using this option, so proceed with caution.

Remember, if you're still not retrieving relevant results, you may need to try different search terms and/or limiters.

Refining Your Results

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Please answer the following questions:

Using the NA Subject Name Personal option will search for articles written BY a particular theologian or religious studies scholar.

Choosing the TX All Text option will narrow your results (provide you with fewer results).

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Emailing Citations

To email a list of citations from the results list, simply click on the folder icon to the right of each citation.

Upon clicking the icon, a window on the right-hand side of the screen will appear and display a list of the first three items you have placed in your folder. Notice also that the folder you clicked that previously had a + sign on it will turn solid, indicating that the information for that citation is now saved to the Folder.

After you have saved all of the citations which you want to email, click on the Folder View link.

From the resulting page you can click on the citations that you would like to Print, Save, Email, or Export (to a bibliographic management software program, such as Zotero or EndNote).

Note that once you exit your browser, the citations will no longer be saved within ATLA, so make sure you email or save to your computer the citations in which you are interested.

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Creating an Account to Save Citations

To permanently save a list of citations within ATLA you will need to create an account. To do so, click on the Sign In link at the top right-hand corner of any page in ATLA.

On the following page click the Create a New Account link and enter the required information.

By creating an account, each time you log into ATLA you will be able to access your saved citations. In addition, you can organize your citations into various folders to keep each of your research projects separate from one another.

To permanently save your citations:

  • Create an account as described above.

  • Make sure you are logged into your account.

  • Click on the folder icon to the right of each citation that you wish to save.

To view a list of the citations you have saved:

  • Make sure you are signed into your ATLA account.
  • Click on the folder icon in the upper right-hand side of any page in ATLA.

  • Your saved citations will be listed in the My Folder section of the resulting page. Any other types of sources you may have saved will also be listed here by the type of source.

You can also create folders on this page. Doing so allows you to save citations for each project or topic on which you may be working.

To create folders:

  • Look on the left-hand side of the saved citations page.
  • Look for the My Custom area near the bottom of the page.
  • Click on New folder in the My Custom Area.

  • On the resulting page, give your new folder a name. You can also add a description.
  • You can create subfolders within any created folder from this page as well.
  • After you have entered all of the requested information, click on the Save button.
  • Any folders you've created will now be listed in the My Custom area of the screen.

  • You can move, delete, or copy citations not yet in a folder by using the following buttons:

In addition, you can share folders with your colleagues. To do so:

  • Go to your saved citations folder.
  • Go to the My Custom section in the lower right-hand corner of the page.
  • Click on the folder whose contents you want to share:

  • Then, click on the Share link:

  • On the resulting page, type the email address of the person with whom you would like to share the folder. You can add a message as well.

Note: You must be signed into ATLA in order to access custom or shared folders. In order to share a folder, it must be at the “top level” of the folders. If you have multiple levels of folders, the sub-folders cannot be shared.

That's it! Now, the next time you log into ATLA all of your saved citations will be available for you in the various folders you've created. Make sure to remember to log into your account each time you want to save additional citations. If you don't log in, the citations will not be saved.

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Your task:

  • Create an account for yourself in ATLA. Then, create a folder named Yoder and save a few citations from the previous search to the folder. As a reminder, the search terms used were:

(pacifis* OR nonviolence OR peace ) AND yoder

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Citations

An interesting feature of that ATLA Religion Database is that it will cite articles for you in a variety of citation formats.

To do so:

  • Click on the title of an article you would like to cite from the results list of a search you've performed.
  • On the right-hand side of the resulting page you will see several options under the Tools heading. Your options include:

Notice that from here you can print, email, save, learn how to cite, export, create a note, save a permanent link, or share the information for an individual article citation from this screen.

To learn how to cite an article, click on the Cite link. Doing so will open a new window which will provide you with a list of citations styles. Choose the citation style you need by scrolling through the list of options, and then copy it, by highlighting it and right clicking your mouse and using the Copy function. After doing so you can paste the citation into a Word document.

Be careful when using the citations from ATLA, though. Sometimes the citations will not be completely accurate. It's always best to check a citation style guide (e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style) either online or in print, to ensure that you are citing the information correctly.

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Printing Full Text Articles

To print an article that is available full text, simply open the article by clicking on the PDF Full Text link from your results list.

Then, use the print function within the PDF reader you are using.

You can also save the article to your computer or email it to yourself.

Printing, Emailing, and Saving Your Results

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Please answer the following questions:

ATLA allows you to create an account to permanently save citations.

You can create as many folders and subfolders in your account and share all of your citations in the subfolders with your fellow students.

Almost Done!

Congratulations! You completed the tutorial.

Feel free to explore the database and learn more about how it can help you in your research.

To print this tutorial, click Single Page View at the top of the guide.

If you need additional help, please contact the religious studies librarian at bkooy@gsu.edu

To leave us feedback and receive a copy of the quizzes you took throughout the tutorial, go on to the next page by clicking the red right-hand arrow below.

 

Please enter your first and last name, along with your email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz. A copy will also be automatically sent to the class instructor.



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