The ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials Plus ("ATLAS") is a database that combines the largest online collection of major theological journals (over 400 titles) with a broad index of other religion publications (articles, book reviews, essays, and more). The online materials are available in full-text, but many of the indexed materials are not. It will likely be the database you use the most in your time as a seminary student. ATLAS is an Ebsco database like a number of our other databases, but it has some navigational tools specific to theological study that we are going to explore in this guide.
The ATLAS database runs on the EBSCO platform. That means the main components of the search screen looks the same as all of the other EBSCO databases PTS subscribes to (Academic Search Premier is an example), and you can cross-search multiple databases simultaneously through the EBSCO Databases (all) link on the library's Articles and Databases page.
As you can see in the screen capture below, the basic search screen allows you to search up to three combinations of fields at a given time.
The 'Select a Field' dropdown boxes allow you to choose the search field for the term you've entered from a variety of options such as All Text (which functions like a keyword search through the full text of documents), Title, Author, Language, Subjects, etc. If the user doesn't make a suggestion, the 'Select a Field' default is a keyword search of the author, subject, keywords, title (including source title) and abstract of documents in the database rather than the full text. This allows the user the flexibility to enter a single word and begin keyword searching, or refine their search through specific and narrow combinations, as illustrated below.
The search above cross-searches for materials that have Karl Barth identified as a named subject, doctrinal theology identified as a subject, and the word "ethic' anywhere in the text of the document. It brought back 40 results.
*A note on Subjects: Like the Barbour library's online catalog, ATLAS uses Library of Congress Subject Headings (supplemented with some subjects they have created), but unlike our catalog, one does not have to know the exact wording of a Subject Heading to perform a Subject Search. As an example, if a Subject search was done with only the word "doctrinal", ATLAS will return all materials tagged Theology, Doctrinal. ATLAS item records also frequently include numerous Subject Heading hyperlinks that can be used to perform Subject searches or inspire relevant search terms.
The dropdown boxes on the left-hand side of the basic search screen allow you to change the Boolean operations of a search. If you're interested in more information about Boolean Searches, here's a video explainer. As a much quicker explanation, we'll use the search below as an example:
The traditional "AND" search of the terms above looks for materials with Theology, Doctrinal identified as the Subject and performs the default keyword search for documents that address ethics AND morality. It returns 6 results. However, by changing the Boolean operator to OR as illustrated, the search brings back any materials with Theology, Doctrinal as the Subject and either ethics or morality found in the default keyword search. That search returns 6623 results, and could be useful in the research process since the concepts of ethics and morality are closely related.
The ATLAS database provides a number of limiter tools that you can use during or after your search to further narrow the results to the most relevant and accessible materials. If you wish to use limiters during your initial search, they can be found at the bottom of the Basic Search screen.
If you choose to use them after you initial search to filter and refine your results, they can be found on the left-hand side of the page.
This guide was created by Alyson Pope.