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EALC 370: Advanced Topics in Buddhist Studies (HC/BMC)

East Asian Languages and Cultures 370: Advanced Topics in Buddhist Studies: Esoteric Buddhism in East Asia (Glassman) Spring 2022

Creating a Search Strategy

Before conducting your search:
  • Consider how your argument might be broken down into keywords or phrases.
  • Compile a list of synonyms for those keywords.  What other terms might scholars use to talk about your topic, and how do these terms reflect the type of argument scholars are making?  (E.g., propaganda vs. advertising)  If you are a little confused about the language typically used in an area, check out the Oxford Art Online. If you search for "Pure Land Buddhism" for instance, here is what you get.
  • Consider which intersections among your keywords will be useful for searching.
  • Identify disciplines that are relevant to your research question.  Also consider the ways in which your question might reside outside traditional disciplines or cut across them.
What to look for in your results:
  • Articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed journals or essay collections.  These articles will have been vetted by scholars with knowledge of the topic.
  • While an article's date of publication is no direct measure of its value, you should make sure that an older article's argument has not been superseded by new research or methodologies before relying on it alone.  Recent articles are also useful for their bibliographies, which have up-to-date resources on the same topic. 

Boolean tips

What are "Boolean operators?" If you search a catalog or database and receive a very large number of results, adding or limiting an additional keyword can help narrow your results and make your searches more useful. Boolean operators refer to the words "AND," "OR," and "NOT" (in capital letters) used in searches to either narrow or expand search results. 

For example, a search for Japan  AND Buddhism will return items that contain both concepts:

Buddhism OR "Pure Land" returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:


Japan NOT China returns items that talk about Japan but do not mention China:


Tips for searching-subject headings

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may be searching.


Finding subject headings

Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.  These subject headings are provided by the Library of Congress and by our catalogers in the library.

For example, the book Demythologizing Pure Land Buddhism Yasuda Rijin and the Shin Buddhist tradition   Connect from Bryn Mawr College     Icon     Icon  include a list of the following subjects. 

  • Yasuda, Rishin.
  • Shin (Sect) > Doctrines > History > 20th century.
  • Shin (Sect) > Doctrines.
  • Reines-Land-Schule.
  • History.

If you click on one of these subject headings, it will give you a list of books that also share the same subject heading. Thus, Shin (Sect) > Doctrines  has 13 results.