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Research Guides


Background information

Encyclopedias and dictionaries are a great way to get reliable background information on a topic.  

Search an individual encyclopedia

Search more than one encyclopedia at once

Find the key works in your field

Sample online encyclopedias and dictionaries

Find more encyclopedias through the library catalogue.

Wikipedia when appropriate

Wikipedia can be a good source for finding background information quickly.  However, anyone on the internet can edit it at any time, so it is not the most reliable source.

If you need trustworthy background information, consult an academic encyclopedia or dictionary.  The library has many sociology and social sciences encyclopedias and dictionaries, many of which are available online.