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Why use a background source?

Don't know much about your topic? Not sure where to start your research?

Background sources (also called reference sources) are things like encyclopedias, dictionaries, manuals, etc. and are excellent for:

  • Getting a general overview of your topic
  • Finding key researchers
  • Introducing you to key concepts and terminology
  • Providing the background knowledge that will help you make sense of scholarly research articles


Background Articles & Reviews

Don't know where to search? Try these reference tools first.


Each of the encyclopedias below is focused on a different area of biology. Read the descriptions to select the one that is right for your information needs.

Multi-Encyclopedia Databases

Use these search tools to search multiple encyclopedias and dictionaries at once.

Other Helpful Databases