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REL 244: Introduction to Judaism: Start

Databases to Search

Finding Secondary Sources

For your assignment, you need to track down secondary sources that significantly draw on your primary source. There is no one way to do this, nor are any of the ways particularly fast or easy.

Here are some specific tactics for identifying the scholarly conversation about your primary source. Note that you will have varying degrees of success, depending on your source and how widely it has been studied:

  • Search for the title of your primary source in Google Scholar. (If your work has been translated, also try the search using the original title of your work in addition to the English translation.) Click the Cited By link under the entry about your source. This might lead you to scholars that cite your primary source. 
  • Search appropriate library databases by title and/or author of your primary source to look for related scholarship. Read the abstract (if available) for a sense of the article's focus. Use the list of library databases on the left to do your search.
  • Search the library catalog by title/author of your primary source to look for related scholarship. 
  • If your primary source is from a source book or edited volume, such as some of the books on reserve for your course, look to see if there's a bibliography following the entry. You can use the Tracking Down Sources page to find hard copies of your source.
  • Google some combination of the title of your primary source, the author of your primary source and the word "scholar" or "researcher" or "professor" etc. You are trying to find websites of scholars who study your primary source; scholars often list publications on their pages.
  • Consult a recommended encyclopedia (listed below) by looking up your work, author or even related topic. Similar to the source book or edited volume, you are looking for a bibliography or list of recommended reading. Then use the Tracking Down Materials tab above to access hard copies of secondary sources.
  • If you find articles and books in a source book, edited volume or encyclopedia, consider plugging those into Google Scholar to see who has cited them, too. This will help you track down related (and more recent) scholarship.
  • Explore resources from the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History; in particular, select Databases from the Resources drop down menu. You can search all of these databases, although they might not all have full text. If you find a source you want to find, use the Tracking Down Materials tab, send me an email or come to the Reference Desk for help.
  • Search RAMBI, which contains articles covering all aspects of Jewish Studies. RAMBI draws heavily on collections from the National Library of Israel and access is provided through the National Library's portal. This is an excellent resource for searching, although you will not be able to request materials directly through RAMBI. If you find articles of interest, use the Tracking Down Materials tab to figure out how to request materials though Interlibrary Loan.

Persistence is key. This is not always an easy task but it can be very rewarding as you delve into the scholarship surrounding your primary source. You can always visit any librarian at the Reference Desk and/or send me an email with questions. I'm happy to help.

Recommended Reference Works


You might come across complications using the search tips. For example, your primary source may not have a title. Or the title is in a different language but you can't figure out what the original title was. You might hit dead ends because secondary sources written about your title are hard to track down. Or you might find that no one has written much about your exact primary source.

It might not feel like it, but these roadblocks are an opportunity to stop and reflect on your process. Go back to the search tips and try another approach. Talk with your professor. Talk with a librarian. Send me an email. Consult with each other - since you are all working on similar topics, you might have suggestions for each other. Good luck!


Julie Gilbert's picture
Julie Gilbert
Hello! I'm on sabbatical during the 2020-2021 academic year. If you have a question about research, an assignment, or the library, please contact any of the reference librarians at or via the Ask Us! button on the library's homepage.
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