FINDING BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Scholarship is a conversation between scholars and scientists. As an inexperienced researcher, you may find it difficult to makes meaningful contributions to this conversation. Finding reliable background information can help you:
Entries in the encyclopedias, like those listed below, can provide excellent overviews for most concepts. You will usually find references or suggested books and articles for further reading at the end of the articles.
If you’re stuck, it never hurts to check Wikipedia for inspiration. You may discover a ton of useful information. But it should never be used as a final source. Any information you find should be corroborated in other sources.
Take a look at the Need ideas? section of the Penn State York Library Instructional Support Guide for additional strategies.
Many instructors require students to use scholarly (academic), peer-reviewed journal articles for college research papers. However, students often don’t know where to find these articles and aren’t even sure what a scholarly article looks like.
This chart outlines the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.
Below are a few of the most commonly used databases, but make sure to check the Subject Guide for your major (or intended major) to know the recommended databases for your field.
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