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Using the Open Access Digital Theological Library

Simple Search

The default search interface in the Open Access Digital Theological Library (OADTL) is a simple search with a single text box to enter search terms:


To perform a quick search, enter search terms and select the black "SEARCH OADTL" button to return results. Review details below for advanced search features or see the Refining Search Results page of this guide to narrow down results.

Advanced Search

Beneath the primary search box is a link to open and begin an Advanced Search. Advanced searching provides additional options to refine your results before running a search. This means the search will return less results, but the results will be more accurate. These options can be adjusted after a search as well from a menu alongside the results list. If desired, start with a broader search and add these qualifiers after. 


1. Use the Search Index drop-down menu to select a specific metadata field to search for a term (Title, Author, Subject, etc.). Keyword is the default.

2. Enter terms to search in one or more text boxes. To search for an exact phrase, put quotation marks around it. For example, "liberation theology" will return results with those words together in that order.

3. Use the Operator drop-down menu to combine search terms using boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. These determine how the search terms in each text box of an Advanced Search relate to one another. For example, looking for resources about "liberation theology" AND "Latin America" would return items that contain both terms in their detailed record. A search for "liberation theology" NOT "Latin America" would return items that contain the term "liberation theology" in their detailed record without the term "Latin America" present.

4. Select "Add row" to add another text box to enter another set of search terms. Connect additional search boxes to previously selected terms using the boolean operators AND, OR, or NOT.

5. Select "Search Tools" to reveal an expanded menu with refinements for your search. These are comparable to the "Refine This Search" options available on the search results page:

Only return peer-reviewed articles: Mark this checkbox to limit search results to articles from peer-reviewed journal articles. Peer-reviewed journals are publications that include only those articles that have been reviewed and/or qualified by a selected panel of acknowledged experts in the field of study covered by the journal.

Open Access: The OADTL includes over 190,000 ebooks and thousands of journals - all of which must be fully open access, without a pay wall of any sort, in order to be included. All items returned in results are accessible at the time of search, either to be viewed online or in some cases downloaded. This refinement is not recommended as it over-restricts results based on a narrower (but not clearly defined) definition of "open access." We recommend leaving this checkbox unmarked.

Group related editions: To keep your results list manageable, mark this checkbox to combine matching resources that are found from more than one indexed repository. This selection will also group versions of the same resource if available, like multiple editions of an open access ebook.

Expand search with related terms: Mark this checkbox to allow the OADTL to include results that match terms closely related to those you searched. 

Format: Use this drop-down menu to select a format of resource to limit results to. Example formats: book, article, archival material.

Publication Year: Enter a date range to limit results to a specific time of publication. It is generally recommended for students to look for recent scholarship, usually within 10 years of the search year.

Language: Use this drop-down menu to limit results to a particular language. The collections in OADTL are ecumenical, global, and interreligious and include materials in all languages (as long as that content meets other collection development criteria).

Audience: Use this drop-down menu to limit results to Juvenile or Not juvenile, if that is pertinent to your research. 

Content Type: If your desired search results will include books, you can use this drop-down to limit results to a broad type: Fiction, Non-fiction, Biography, or Thesis/dissertation.

Held By Library: By default searches in the OADTL return only results for items held by the OADTL. If desired, expand the search to include other libraries' material by marking the check-box for "Libraries Worldwide" instead of "Open Digital Theological Library." Additional results from "Libraries Worldwide" will not be immediately accessible, so citations will need to be submitted for interlibrary loan. We recommend leaving Held By Library as "Open Digital Theological Library."

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