By Darren Poley, Librarian for Theology, Religion, Humanities and Classical Studies
It’s hard knowing if you have accurate statistical data when you don’t know a credible source, and often for academic reasons you need to find it quickly. Falvey has procured access to two very important statistical databases in the field of religious studies: World Religion Database, produced by the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs; and World Christian Database from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Access to these two dynamic online databanks is licensed from Brill, a well-respected academic publisher. And Brill has recently given them a fresh, new user interface.
Both are respected sources of information and data that is useful to the student and the professional scholar, too. It allows one to get up-to-date facts and figures on religions and denominations from several points of entry. They each have helpful glossaries which define unusual terms used by the databases and dictionaries that define religions, traditions and other standard terms. The information is organized by regions, countries, peoples and languages. They both offer data gathered by field research, estimation, censuses, surveys and projections. They even offer “Top 20 Lists.” World Religion Database includes information from The Pew Research Center. World Christianity Database has unique categories such as a chronology, martyrs, theological education directory, and religious change over time. Both take a global view on their respective subjects. Perhaps the best feature of these databases is that they are updated quarterly, so the data is not only comprehensive, historical and reliable but also the most current.
Researchers nowadays talk frequently about “Big Data” and how it gets curated and disseminated. Well, these Web-based tools go a long way to provide access to enormous amounts of data that is more easily mined by means of them. You can access them through Falvey’s catalog, A-Z databases list, and Theology and Religious Studies subject guide.
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