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Research Guides

Why Use Background Sources

 Sample encyclopedia covers 

Encyclopedias are a good place to start preliminary exploration of a topic.

  • Encyclopedias help you figure out the who, what & where of a topic. Knowing the who, what & where of a topic is the first step in researching a topic and discovering the "how" and "why".
  • Plus you can use the who, whats and wheres to to find relevant secondary sources (using the sources listed under the tab "Historian's Interpretations") as well as primary sources.
  • And encyclopedias give you a jump start on your research by listing important books in the bibliography at the end of the entry.

Also check two online encyclopedia collections: Gale eBooks & Oxford Reference Online.