Using EBSCO Databases

Getting Started

This brief tutorial is for searching EBSCO databases such as: ATLA Religion Database, Academic Search Premier, Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, Old Testament Abstracts, and New Testament Abstracts. You can search all of these at the same time but our tutorial examples will come from just the ATLA Religion Database.

To use the databases, go to the Library Homepage and click on the "Databases" link in the left hand column. Off campus access is restricted to AST faculty, staff, and registered students. Contact the Library for more information.

Advanced Keyword Searching

The default search screen is the Advanced Search screen. This allows fill-in-the-blank keyword searching to aid in complex or specific searches.

Useful Search Commands


Searches for records that have both keywords, e.g. both feminism AND theology.


Searches for records that contain either of the keywords, e.g. feminism OR feminist.


Excludes one of the terms, e.g. Israel NOT politics. This is a tricky on to use, so be careful you do not exclude useful materials.

“ ”

Search for an exact phrase by putting it in quotes, e.g. “Lord’s supper”


This acts as a truncation symbol.  It looks for all variant spellings of the end of a keyword. For example, christian* finds christian, christians, and christianity.


Replaces a single character within a word. So wom?n finds women and woman, while labo?r finds labour and labor.

Select a Field

If you do not select a field, you default to a keyword search of the article's or essay's description. You can also select a author search, title search, subject search, and so on.

Special search options.

Two of the most useful search options are Subjects and Scriptures searching. If they are available for your database these options will appear in the blue bar at the top of the search screen.



Viewing your search results.

You search results are in three sections. The centre section lists journal articles and links to full text. The left and right hand sections list ways to refine your search.


Your search results.

A list of articles will appear in the middle section with links to full text, our journal holdings, and the ability to make personal lists of articles using the “folder” option.

Each entry includes the article title, author, journal tile (i.e. source ), volume, issue, and page numbers.

Many of the articles are available immediately as linked full text or PDFs, or in AST’s online and print journal holdings.  


Refining your search results 

On the right of your search results are options for limiting your results to just full text or by date. Choose an option and click on the “Update Results” icon.


You can further refine your search results by narrowing them to particular subjects, authors, publication type, and sometimes other categories within your search results.