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Find background information

Use reference sources like encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks to get a general overview of your topic. Use this information to help narrow and focus your research topic.


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Use bibliographies

Note any useful sources (books, journal or magazine articles, etc.) listed in the bibliography at the end of the encyclopedia article or dictionary entry. The sources cited in the bibliography are good starting points for further research. Many of the books and articles you find in the course of your research will themselves have bibliographies. Check these bibliographies for additional relevant resources for your research. Consistently following up on sources cited in bibliographies can generate a large list of books and articles on your research topic in a relatively short time.

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Research portal pages' text and linked PDFs by Virginia Tech Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. (Cover and other images are not included in the CC license and are used under Fair Use.)

Useful Tips

Find subject-specific background resources by searching Addison using basic terms to describe your topic, combined with encyclopedia, dictionaries, or handbook.

Concept table

    Background concept table