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Religious Studies  

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2017 URL: Print Guide

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About using Web Resources

Note:  There are some excellent resources listed here, but please keep in mind that in general many Web-based resources must be reviewed for authority, accuracy and authenticity. Also, Web materials are time-sensitive - a page in existence one week may not be around the following week. We have tried to list reliable, stable websites, but these tenets are always good to keep in mind while browsing ...

Statistics and Data

  • Adherents is a growing collection of over 43,870 adherent statistics and religious geography citations: references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc.
  • The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
    Statistics on religion in America, exploring the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape
  • The Association of Religious Data
    The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) strives to democratize access to the best data on religion. The targeted audience and the data collection have both greatly expanded since 1998, now including American and international collections and developing features for educators, journalists, religious congregations, and researchers. Data included in the ARDA are submitted by the foremost religion scholars and research centers in the world.

Google Scholar

If you are off campus, follow this link to Google Scholar Find It @ Cedar Crest.


Google Scholar is a place to start but make sure you use your professional indexes.  A controlled vocabulary search is often more reliable & less overwhelming than a Google search.

If you use Google for a web search; use Google advanced which gives you more control over the results.  If you limit by Domain you can see the results from goverment sites (.gov), organizations sites (.org), or education sites (.edu). You can also limit by when the site was last updated.

Evaluate sites the way you would evaluate a book or other resource.  Who sponsors it?  When was it last updated?  Who wrote it? Who thinks it is a good site? Typing "Link: " then the sites address in the Google search bar should result in a list of sites that links to that particular web-page.  Who points to it will tell you something about the usefulness of the page.

Searching on the Web

Searching on the web is tracked closely by the providers; such as Google, Bing, etc.  Over time they know what you have been looking at ond ONLY return those results they think you want to see.  For example,  If you primarily look at conservative political sites; eventually, they will only ever return conservative political sites. You will never get any other viewpoint.  Scholars are supposed to step back and look at all sides of the research subject; the practice of only returning what matches your search history is called a "search bubble".  It is one of the great opinion polarizers of the modern web culture. Search providers also sell "top spot" returns which also skew the results you receive.

There are a few steps you can make to minimize the research impact of these practices: 

        + Make sure you look at all viewpoints in the first place; sort of self immunization. 

        + Go to the local public library to search.  Public libraries tend not to have built in search bubbles because people with a

            variety of opinions sit down at the workstations. 

        + Use a non-tracking search engine such as Duck Duck Go.

Check out the link Don't Bubble Us for a clearer explanantion!


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