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A good work of background or general information will provide a synthesis of existing, generally accepted scholarship and knowledge rather than propose new interpretations and ideas. Background information pieces are generally shorter than your average article or book, and written in language that is easier for the novice scholar to understand. They also tend to be broader in scope. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks are all background sources. More and more source are available online, but many are still in print in the reference collection.