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National Library Week

Check out events taking place at DiPietro Library as we celebrate National Library Week!

Background information

Getting background information about a topic is good place to begin the reseach process.  In order to craft a well-informed inquiry question it is best to gain an overview of the topic.  Encyclopedias are considered teritiary sources and not suited for citation in your academic writing. 


Where can I find more about....?

There are a lot of ways to get additional information. It's helpful to check several different sources of information then add that to what you know about the topic from your assignment to form your perspective.


  • Google - that's what everyone does, right? Google's search algorithm preferences the most popular sites which may give you only the most popular or current answers.  Consider going beyong the first 10 search results (1st page usually) to see if there is disagreement further down.  Your Google results depend on how you word your search.  Try searching for the same information in different ways.
  • Wikipedia - it can be a good place to look for basic information, but beware especially if you see an article that has been 'flagged' because it needs additional citations or other work.
  • Books - it sounds dumb to say, but we'll say it anyways, "Books have good information in them."  A book allows you to explore a topic in-depth and at-length, something an encyclopedia article does not.  It also can be a snapshot of how a topic was viewed at the time the book was written.
  • Articles - most of the library's articles are in our databases, but we do have a selection of magazines and journals that are in print.  Print magazines are located on the lower level, ask if you need assistance finding back issues.
  • Reference materials - this is a great way to find basic facts (i.e. what year was a person born, population,  economic trends, etc.)
  • News sites - if you're researching a current event, check several different news sites to see how they present the same story, see if you can find the topic on an international news site.  How is the story reported on different sites?  The same?  Different?