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Background sources like encyclopedias can provide context for your topic or even help you choose one. They are great places to start because:
They explain topics in simpler language than scholarly articles
They are much shorter (often just a page or two instead of 20 pages or more found in a scholarly article or hundreds of ages found in a book).
They highlight important issues, figures, dates, and/or events that you may want to focus on in your paper or project.
They give you suggested sources for further research in the form of bibliographies or works cited.
Use these helpful links to gather some background information on a topic before you dig into doing some serious research. Having a better understanding of a topic will help improve your assignment. Log-in may be required when using some resources form off-campus. Use your NetID and password. Call the library if you have any problems at 406-657-1662.
Credo is an easy-to-use tool for research projects. Search in hundreds of encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, quotations, and subject-specific titles, as well as 200,000+ images and audio files, and nearly 100 videos.
Contains full text of encyclopedia articles, including illustrations such as photographs, drawings, maps, and flags. Also includes a dictionary, selected video clips, and links to over 200,000 related websites reviewed by Britannica editors.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a one-stop source for information on today's hottest social issues. It features viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites. New to the database are Lexile reading levels for periodicals and an integrated national and state curriculum standards search with content correlated to the standards.
Use this site to develop an understanding of a topic and to find quality sources. However, at the college level most instructors do not want you to cite Wikipedia in your assignment because it is not a creditable source.
Popular vs. Scholarly Sources Tutorial
Watch this 5 minute tutorial to learn the differences between popular vs. scholarly sources.
Understanding periodical types
Watch this video to learn more about the different types of periodicals that you may encounter when doing your research.