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Biology 192: Principles of Biological Investigation: Getting Started

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Using Background Sources

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.

Quick Tips:

  • To find background sources in the library catalog, put in your subject area and a word like "encyclopedia" or "handbook." For example: [biology encyclopedia] or [handbook plants].
  • Some online background sources require you to log in with your NetID. If you're having trouble, or have forgotten your NetID, contact the Helpdesk at (775) 682-5000.