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TEC 449S/649S: The Trinity: A Historical and Theological Survey

Types of Information


Popular and Scholarly Information Sources

The table below shows characteristics commonly associated with scholarly or popular sources.

Both scholarly and popular sources can be appropriate for your research purposes, depending on your research question and expectations for your assignment by your professor. 

  Popular Scholarly



  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Websites
  • Trade Publications
  • Scholarly journals
  • Academic books
  • Dissertations/theses
  • Readily available to the public OR
  • Available behind a paywall
  • Available through libraries and online databases
  • Usually behind a paywall
  • Journalists
  • Freelance writers
  • Researchers
  • Scholars with subject expertise
  • Inform, entertain, persuade general public
  • Share original research with other researchers/scholars
  • Expand knowledge in discipline
  • Written using using vocabulary and language from the discipline
  • No formal citations or sources cited indirectly
  • All sources cited
  • Extensive reference lists or bibliographies
Editorial Process
  • Reviewed by single editor
  • Blind peer-review by multiple experts or refereed by scholars in the same field
  • Mix of short and in-depth articles on wide variety of subjects
  • Lengthy articles with subsections within articles (literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion)
  • Popular presses; or unknown.
  • Academic or scholarly presses
  • Current events are well covered.
  • Material can be published on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.
  • The writing, editorial and publication process takes a long time.
  • Coverage of current events lag by about one or two years.

What’s the difference?

  1. Keyword Searching: you can use any words or phrase, and results will include these words somewhere in the record (the title, table of contents, summary, etc.)
  • Keywords use natural language.
  • Different people (including authors) use different words to describe the same topic Keywords are not controlled.
  • Keyword searches typically search an entire database record, including full-text articles.
  • Use quotation marks to search a specific term.
  1. Subject Searching: these are authorized search terms, and the catalog only searches the subject field of each record.
  • All cataloged and indexed materials have assigned headings called “subjects”
  • Subject headings describe the “aboutness” or topic of the work, bring together all of the works on the same topic, despite differences in text.
  • Subject headings are “controlled”- they are carefully selected from existing lists called “controlled vocabularies”
  • Subject searches only search within the assigned subject field within a database record

Brainstorming keywords for your research question

Your search process for information resources will invariably use a combination of both strategies.

Database Search Terms

The following are some useful Library of Congress subject headings:

Church history



History of Doctrines

History of doctrines concerning the Holy Spirit 

Holy Spirit. The Paraclete


Jesus Christ -- Divinity

Nicene Creed

TheologyDoctrinal History

TheologyDoctrinal HistoryEarly Church

TheologyEarly Church



Trinity in Art

Trinity in Literature

Use chronological subdivisions to help locate material from a particular period.

Theology History 

--Early Church

--Middle Ages

--Modern Period


--Early works through 1800




You can also narrow your search by  adding a keyword like a person or theological concept, (e.g., Doctrinal Theology AND Augustine) or (e.g. Trinity AND Holy Spirit)