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Analytical Reading and Writing

Find Background Information

An excellent starting-point for research are Reference Sources, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries. They provide the background information you need to better understand your topic and to develop keywords for searches. 

Below are selected library databases and reference books that can help you start researching your topic.



Note About Wikipedia

Wikipedia Logo

Wikipedia can be great reference resource to start learning about your topic.  It can help you with:

  • Developing some background knowledge about your topic, including an overview, definitions, and outline.
  • Discovering keywords, including related terms, sub-topics, and names of notable people, places, and events.
  • Finding links to other relevant resources.

It's generally true that Wikipedia should:

  • NOT be used as a main or only source of information for your project.
  • NOT be quoted/cited as a reference source in your final project.

REMEMBER: Always make sure to follow the requirements communicated by your teacher. The appropriateness of different information resources varies depending on the circumstances of specific assignments and topics.

Reference Databases


Credo Reference
Provides access to a large number of encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri and other reference books. Subjects covered include art, biography, history, literature, music, religion, and science and technology.

Gale Logo 

Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints

Provides information on various social issues, including pro and con articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles.

Keywords and Key Concepts

An important part of the research process is developing a list of keywords that will help you locate relevant information on your topic.  Here are some tips to help you with this process:










Constructing Your Searches

Once you have some keywords for your topic, you can begin searching for information.  This video provides strategies to develop effective searches using Boolean Operators.


For more great search tips, check out the Library Searching 101 guide:

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