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Research Guides

RLG206: Buddhist Traditions

This guide supports the class taught by Prof. Frances Garrett.



Got a question?

Getting started

On this page:

Do I need to use the Library for my research?

There's a wealth of information available on the internet. For scholarly information, though, you probably need the Library. While you can find scholarly articles through Google, you might run into a couple of problems:

  1. You may be asked to pay for the articles you find. For example:DON'T PAY! The U of T Libraries have bought ca. 35 million online scholarly articles for you to use. Chances are, we have your article. Come back to the Library homepage to look for it.
  2. Google also has a lot of popular and quasi-scholarly material (like articles that haven't gone through peer review yet). This can make it harder to choose a good article.

Using the library can mean taking out a book from the shelves. Or it can mean using the Library's online scholarly databases to search and access the Library's online scholarly articles. Or finding an e-book through  the library catalogue. You can access online resources from home by signing in with your UTORID when prompted.

How can I find background information/the basics on my topic?

Two useful online library encyclopedias:

Encyclopedia do's and don'ts

Use encyclopedias for:

  • a quick overview 
  • key concepts and keywords
  • aspects you can use to narrow your topic
  • references to other sources


  • don't quote (usually anyway) encyclopedia articles in your assignments whether you're using a library encyclopedia or Wikipedia - use for deep background.
  • don't get all your references from Wikipedia - instructors read Wikipedia too and notice if that's where you get all your ideas. Plus they're not always the best sources.

How can I find the best books or articles to start with?

Finding and recognizing the "best" articles on a topic can be a challenge, particularly when you're new to that topic.

One tool that can help you is an annotated bibliography created by an expert on the subject to point you to the best places to start.

How can I tell if a book or article is scholarly?

There are both external and internal clues as to whether a source is scholarly.

External clues

Who is the author? Are they a scholar at a university? A researcher?

For books: is it published by a university press, e.g. University of Toronto Press?

For articles: many library databases allow you to select for scholarly articles/journals:






Some databases allow you to specifiy a peer-reviewed article.

You can also check your journal in Ulrichs Periodical Directory (Ulrichsweb), to see if it's peer-reviewed.

Internal clues

Internal clues include content and style? Is the item research-based?

If you're looking for peer-reviewed articles, be careful. Not everything in a scholarly journal is peer-reviewed - there may be news items, book reviews, editorials, opinion pieces - so you need to know what a peer-reviewed article looks like. Check out the internal clues here:

What is peer review? Peer review in 3 minutes

How do I find a specific known article?

You already know the article you want - maybe you found it on Google, or through the reference list of another article, or through a prof or TA's recommendation. Let's say you want this one from Google: 

What to do:

  1. Go to the Library homepage:
  2. In the Search all box, search on the article title. If this title is too generic (i.e. common words) add the subtitle and/or author surnames.
  3. Click on your article where it appears in the results list. 
  4. Click on the PDF button to download the full text. Note that the PDF button won't always be this obvious and you may need to look around for it. Also, this is the stage where you'll be asked to sign in with your UTORID if you haven't already done so.

How can I troubleshoot problems getting the full text?

  • Make sure you've chosen a journal article - only journal articles link to the full-text:Doublecheck that you're not trying to link to an article in a book.
  • WORKAROUND if the link to a journal article doesn't work or if the search for your specific article doesn't bring up the article:
    • Search the journal title in the library catalogue. Find the online version of the journal - it has [Electronic resource] beside the title.
    • Often, more than one subscription is listed. Choose the one with the right date to cover your article.
    • Then find the volume and issue that holds your article.
  • It's possible the Library does not have your article  - our collection is enormous but we still don't have everything. The Library can get things for you from other libraries through inter-library loan
  • You can always check with a librarian. Email Eveline (put RLG206 in the subject line) or contact the Library through chat, email or in-person.

What does the citation to an article in a book look like?

Citations for articles in books look similiar to citations for journal articles.. Clues it's an article in a book: the word "In"; publisher information; no journal volume or issue number:

To find a an article or chapter in a book, search in the library catalogue for the book title

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