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First-Year Research Guide

This guide provides resources on developing an inquiry question, finding background information, using the library catalog and databases, and developing a list of keyword terms

Background information

Frequently in college, you will be asked to read about topics about which you are unfamiliar. And even if you are familiar with your topic, you can't assume your reader knows everything about your subject. Getting reference, or background information about a topic is good place to begin the research process. Below are sources where you can find background information about your topic.


How to Use Wikipedia

Image of the Wikipedia logo - a set of interconnected, black and white puzzle pieces in the shape of an orb or globe

At some point in your studies, you've probably been told not to use Wikipedia as a source for your papers and assignments. While you shouldn't use Wikipedia as one of your sources, it can be a good starting for your research, provided you use it wisely.

One of the hallmarks of a good Wikipedia article are hyperlinks, like those highlighted below, which follow facts stated in a Wikipedia article. Clicking on these hyperlinks will bring you to the original source of the information. From there, you can evaluate the original information, and determine whether you can use it for your assignment. Refer to the Credibility Continuum page for help in evaluating information sources. 

Screenshot of the Wikipedia entry for Earth Day, with several hyperlinked citations outlined in yellow

Screenshot of several references from the Earth Day entry on Wikipedia