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Background information - Library tools
Specialized encyclopedias like those contained in the sources mentioned below can be invaluable for exploring a topic. Remember, encyclopedias are designed to give neutral background information.
Gale Ebooks (formerly GVRL)
Gale eBooks has over 200 encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Look here for biology, chemistry, nursing and medicine, sociology, history, education, law, and more.
Provides online versions of 500 published reference works, including general and specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias. Try the Concept Map to search for terms and topics that are interconnected and displayed in a visual form.
An online version of McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms. It contains nearly 9,000 online encyclopedia articles, terms, images and videos related to sciences and technology. The Study Center provides essay topics, study guides and bibliographies.
Health and Wellness (Gale)
Provides access to medical reference materials. Includes nearly 400 health/medical journals, hundreds of pamphlets, over 700 health-related videos from partner Healthology, Inc., and articles from 2,200 general interest publications in addition to a broad collection of Gale reference titles.
Using web searching to help you develop a topic can be incredibly useful. Googling your topic and exploring the kinds of results that you get can help you get a good lay of the land. As you use Google to find sources, think about trying to locate professional, academic, and governmental organizations that focus on your topic; don't just haphazardly pick pages where your search terms show up. Just remember that as you move toward greater focus in your research, you will want to move away from Google and toward more precise tools (like library databases).
Wikipedia will definitely come up in your search results. Use the entries to increase your knowledge of a topic and to direct you to other potential sources but do not cite Wikipedia in your paper.
"Hot topics" databases and websites
Website that lists and describes controversial issues and keeps you informed about them with up-to-date information.