Religion, Social Justice and Human Rights

Buddhist nuns from the Tibetan tradition, volunteering in Kyegundo (Tibet Earthquake zone) - Flickr user "SFTHQ", via Wikimedia Commons

This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for Religion, Social Justice and Human Rights.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

J. Paul Martin

Personal Librarian 
Madiha Zahrah Choksi
Digital Scholarship Librarian
Digital Humanities Center, Milstein Center

Literature Reviews
Journal Articles/Databases
Government Information & Nongovernmental Organizations
Writing & Citing
Other Research Guides
Student Publishing Opportunities

How to Write Literature Reviews

The literature review is an important but often challenging part of your research paper. 

  • Literature Reviews from the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill is a solid introduction to what literature reviews are and how to go about constructing one. Some of these tips are for writing much larger literature reviews than what you'll be creating for this class, but the general principles will still apply.
  • Take a look at examples of literature reviews:
    • The introductory sections of  scholarly journal articles will include a literature review.
    • Here is an example of an annotated freestanding literature review. 
    • Annual Reviews are great for getting comprehensive summaries of research on specific topics in various field. The social sciences covered include anthropology, economics, law, political science, psychology, public health, resource economics, sociology, and more.
  • Try using a research log to keep track of what you're searched and what you want to try next.  You can copy this to your Google Drive and adjust it to suit your needs. 

Finding Books - Catalogs

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.

Catalog search tips:

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "human rights".

  • Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; activis* will find activism, activist, activists, etc.

  • For more complex search, use AND and OR:

    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered.

    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.

    • For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced/Boolean keyword searching.

  • Use parentheses to group terms:  religio* AND (peacebuilding OR peacemaking OR peacekeeping)

Subject headings: If you find a book that's relevant, look at its subject headings in CLIO and click through to find more related works.

Find books and other materials in other libraries:

Finding Journal Articles/Databases

There are hundreds of databases available through CLIO. You can use the Articles section in CLIO to search multiple databases simultaneously, including many listed below.

For off-campus access to library online resources, remember to follow the links from CLIO or this research guide. You can also use the proxy bookmarklet.

Database search tips:

  • The general search tips for CLIO also apply to the article databases.
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, the bibliography/works cited page can be a useful road map to other relevant literature that was previously published.  
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, you can use Web of Science, Google Scholar and some other databases to find out whether it was cited by other scholars after it was published. Search for the title of an article/monograph and search and click on "Cited by" to generate a list of publications that have referenced that source.
  • In most databases, you can narrow your results to scholarly publications only. Look for "limit to ... scholarly publications/peer-reviewed/refereed publications only" or similar language. This will help you find articles from journals that have gone through a rigorous peer review process.  

Recommended Scholarly Databases:

  • ATLA Religion Database provides citations and abstracts for articles in periodicals and collections of essays about religion and theology.
  • CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online) provides working papers, research reports, policy briefs and more from university research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and foundations. This is a good place to look for analysis of recent events and current situations.
  • EBSCOHost is a platform that hosts dozens of databases covering all areas of study. It contains  many  different types of resources including citations, abstracts, images, dissertations, and full text articles from scholarly, professional, news, and regional sources. Go to "Choose Databases" to select specific databases relevant to your topic, or search all the database at the same time. 
  • Gender Studies Database features research in women's studies, men's studies, gender studies, and sexuality studies.  Source documents include professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, and theses & dissertations.
  • Google Scholar is very useful for seeing if a book, article, etc. has been cited by other scholars. Search on the title, and then follow the "Cited by ..." link. 
  • Index Islamicus covers articles, book reviews, conference proceedings, and other scholarly work on Islam, the Islamic World, and the Middle East.
  • International Political Science Abstracts (IPSA) provides citations and abstracts for political science journal articles and yearbooks, including literature in the field of international affairs.
  • JSTOR provides the full text of back issues from core scholarly journals in political science and other fields in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. Please note that, generally, this database does not include issues published in the last few years. You can search just the journals in a specific field - such as religion, peace & conflict studies, political science, sociology, etc. - by using the Advanced Search "NARROW BY DISCIPLINE AND/OR JOURNAL" feature.
  • PAIS Index features public affairs research, including references to journal articles, books, government documents, statistical sources, research reports, conference proceedings, and publications of international agencies.
  • ProQuest is a platform that hosts dozens of databases covering all areas of study. It contains  many  different types of resources including citations, abstracts, images, dissertations, and full text articles from scholarly, professional, news, and regional sources. Go to "Choose Databases" to select specific databases relevant to your topic, or search all the database at the same time. 
  • Sociological Abstracts is a good place to look for articles in scholarly journals that concern the sociology of religion, religion and society, etc.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts contains abstracts of books, scholarly journal articles, and major news magazine articles covering North American and international politics.

Finding News Sources

  • Ethnic NewsWatch has a full-text collection of newspapers, magazines and journals from ethnic, minority and indigenous press.
  • GenderWatch offers access to a full-text collection of international journals, magazines, newsletters, regional publications, special reports and conference proceedings devoted to women's and gender issues.
  • LexisNexis Academic contains access to hundreds of information sources including the full text of newspapers, magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts.
  • Need more news? Check out other databases that contain news sources, and use the filters on the left hand side to find ones from the time and place you need.

Finding Government Information and Intergovernmental & Nongovernmental Organization Sources

Government Information:

  • HeinOnline provides  full text online access to legal journals and a wide variety of official U.S. and foreign government publications, including constitutions, treaties, and international agreements.


United Nations resources:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents the full text of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with a historical and analytical overlay that considers the declaration’s influence on international and domestic law, politics, and affairs over the last half century. Supplementary material includes biographical annotations, definitions of key concepts, and links.
  • United Nations Documentation: Research Guide: Human Rights serves as a pathfinder to human rights material published by the United Nations, with links to available full-text documents.

Writing and Citing

  • Barnard guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.
  • Cite Source presents information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky source like government agency reports, House and Senate committee debates and hearings, and other. Check out the source help for APAAPSA, Chicago, and MLA styles.​
  • The Craft of Research is an online book that can help guide you through the full research process.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject-specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.
  • Don't forget the literature review resources listed at the top of this guide!

Other Research Guides

  • Human Rights Research Guide from Columbia Law Library links to sources for basic information on the human rights situation within countries. It also provides instructions on how to research foreign law, treaties, and how to find books on human rights issues. Note: Should you require assistance using research materials from the Law Library, feel free to contact me with your question and I’ll route your question to the appropriate librarian at the Law Library.
  • Human Rights Studies from Columbia University Libraries has links to background information, selected books and journals, and ways to locate human rights advocacy organizations.
  • Religion Research Guide from Barnard Library has lots of other resources that might be helpful for this course.

Student Publishing Opportunities

Academic Commons

Academic Commons is Columbia University's digital repository where faculty, students, and staff of Columbia and its affiliate institutions can deposit the results of their scholarly work and research. Content in Academic Commons is freely available to the public. To deposit your research, please use the self-deposit form.

Undergraduate Journals

  • Cornell International Affairs Review (Cornell University)
    The Cornell International Affairs Review (CIAR) is a bi-annual, student-run journal that publishes academic papers from undergraduate students, post-graduate students, experts, and professors in a wide range of fields with a focus on contemporary issues in the international arena.
  • Columbia University Journal of Politics and Society (Columbia University)
    The Helvidius Group is a student organization at Columbia University, established in 1989 by Peter Tomassi, CC ’91, to provide a forum for undergraduate discourse on issues concerning law and public policy. The Journal of Politics & Society is the realization of that mission. Originally an annual magazine distributed to Ivy League universities and to members of Congress, it has adopted a more scholarly focus and has grown to encompass all of the social sciences. The Journal is not affiliated with or sponsored by any political organization, and it remains staunchly nonpartisan.
  • Critical Theory and Social Justice Journal of Undergraduate Research (Occidental College)
    CTSJ is dedicated to providing a forum for undergraduate students to develop and share critical research and writing on the intersections of "race", "sexuality", and "nationality" as they relate to problems of social justice. The journal seeks to foster exchange of ideas across disciplines and deepen understandings of systems of injustice, and in this way advances the mission of Occidental College: to develop critical, thoughtful, and active participation in an increasingly pluralistic and conflict ridden global culture.
  • Critique: A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics (Illinois State Univeristy)
    Critique is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarship by students of political science. The journal, which is recognized by American Political Science Association (APSA), accepts submissions from all the subfields of political science. The articles submitted to Critique undergo a rigorous peer-review process. The journal provides a forum for graduate and undergraduate students of political science to express and exchange diverse ideas and to imagine new possibilities for democracy and justice. They welcome the work of emerging scholars on cutting-edge topics. The editors firmly believe that budding scholars introduce valuable ideas that must be heard in order to understand the nature of political institutions, behavior, and the global community. Thus, they encourage articles about politics that take seriously the growing opportunities for social change and new possibilities for enacting policy locally, nationally, and internationally.​
  • The Dialectics: Journal of Law, Leadership, and Society (Pennsylvania State University – Abington)
    The Dialectics: Journal of Law, Leadership, and Society is a refereed, multidisciplinary electronic publication. The Journal’s aim is to promote undergraduate scholarship and to encourage students to pursue and engage in thoughtful discourses on topics of societal importance. To date, The Dialectics has published the works of 63 authors, representing 30 universities in the United States and abroad.
  • Eleven (University of California, Berkeley)
    Eleven: The Undergraduate Journal of Sociology publishes excellent sociological papers written by current and recent UC Berkeley undergraduates, as well as undergraduates from across the nation and countries such as Canada and Norway. A student-run publication, the journal provides an academic forum that highlights outstanding scholarship in the social sciences. In the spirit of Marx’s Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach that mandates one to engender constructive change, the journal offers opportunities for an intellectual space that encourages critical engagement with the world.
  • HABITUS (Yale University)
    HABITUS seeks to provide a forum for examining the social world. We envision a unique outlet for the publication of undergraduate work in the social sciences, with a central focus on sociology. We hope to create a document, in print and online, that combines the intellectual rigor of an academic journal with the dynamic format of an undergraduate magazine. Issues will center around changing themes to integrate a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, and in addition to showcasing high-quality academic papers at the core of every issue, HABITUS may feature thought-provoking work in other formats - for example: photographic work, columns, and book or film reviews.
  • Inquiries (Jamaica Plain, MA)
    Inquiries Journal, formerly Student Pulse, is an open-access academic journal that highlights the work of students at the undergraduate level and above. The journal publishes work across a range of academic disciplines with a particular focus on the social sciences, arts, and humanities.
  • International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (Pacific University and Central Washington University)
    International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities is a peer-reviewed, open access journal dedicated to the publication of outstanding scholarship by undergraduates and their mentors from academic institutions of higher learning. The Journal accepts submissions of research articles, fiction, poetry, photography, videos, and other creative works from undergraduate students in all academic disciplines. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and will be published on the Journal website after successful review.
  • Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (California Lutheran University)
    Journal of Integrated Social Sciences is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal committed to the scholarly investigation of social phenomena. We especially encourage students and their faculty advisors to submit the results of their investigations. NOTE: As of November 11, 2016, they are NOT currently accepting submissions from the field of political science.
  • Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Excellence (Colorado State University)
    JUR publishes extraordinary undergraduate work in an easily accessible and professional peer-reviewed journal. Our mission is to print outstanding undergraduate research, scholarly articles, and creative works in order to make them available to the public and connect the worldwide community of college undergraduates.
  • On Our Terms (Barnard College)
    On Our Terms is an online, peer-reviewed, academic journal of women and leadership. Produced under the auspices of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, this publication features scholarship by undergraduates from across the globe seeking to enhance our generation’s discourse on the theme. We are a journal created for students, by students, and our goal is to provide a platform for student thought, debate, and voice through the publication of original academic articles and multimedia pieces.
  • Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics (Oakland University)
    The Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics was founded in the spring of 2001 by the Delta Omega Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at Purdue University, under the name The American Undergraduate Journal of Politics and Government.  With the sponsorship of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, the name of the Journal was changed to The Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics beginning with the Fall 2004 issue. From July 2007 until July 2010 the Journal was based at the Zeta Upsilon Chapter at Union College, and in August 2010 moved to the Eta Rho Chapter at the College of William & Mary. In August 2013, the Nu Omega Chapter at Oakland University began hosting the Journal for a three year term.
  • Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review (University of Pittsburgh)
    The purpose of the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review is to advance independent undergraduate scholarship. The PUR aims to bring research to the forefront of undergraduate awareness. By presenting provocative ideas, the PUR catalyzes further intellectual innovations and pursuits, thereby energizing the academic community.
  • Sociological Insight (UT Austin)
    The Sociology Department launched Sociological Insight in the fall of 2008. It is a peer-reviewed sociology journal promoting undergraduate scholarship in the social sciences. Sociological Insight seeks to provide an opportunity for undergraduates in the United States and abroad to publish their very best academic papers and reap the benefits of subjecting their research to a rigorous peer-review process.
  • Spaces Between: an Undergraduate Feminist Journal (U. Alberta) 
    Spaces Between is a student-run, student-written, peer reviewed undergraduate journal. This publication is a forum for undergraduate students to publish their work in Women’s and Gender Studies as well as feminist research and writing within other disciplines. Spaces Between is wide in scope: we welcome research and writing that critically engages with gender, sexuality, race, class, (dis)ability, nation, imperialism, (de)colonization, and globalization.
  • Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (Stanford University)
    The Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (SURJ) is an annual peer-reviewed publication of research articles written primarily by Stanford undergraduates, but also by well-qualified students at other institutions, from all academic fields.
  • Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences (Kappa Omicron Nu Leadership Academy, MI)
    The URC Undergraduate Research Journal is an annual online national, reviewed journal dedicated to the publication of undergraduate student research. The twofold purpose of the journal is to foster and reward the scholarly efforts of undergraduate human sciences students as well as to provide a valuable learning experience. The articles represent primarily the work of the undergraduate student(s). Faculty members who deserve recognition are identified by an asterisk next to their names.

Last updated September 19, 2017