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STCM 244: Research, Measurement, & Evaluation: Background

Library course guide for STCM 244: Research, Measurement, & Evaluation

Using Background Information

Let's say you're assigned a paper topic that you know almost nothing about, and Wikipedia isn't helping. What do you do? Find a subject encyclopedia!

Background sources (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.) provide summary and factual information. They generally contain well-established knowledge and can provide a basic understanding on which to build. Use background sources to:

  • find basic concepts and viewpoints of the topic
  • get the historical context and relationships to other topics
  • identify and define specialized terms used to discuss the topic
  • find or verify data, facts, formulas, etc.

In other words, these are resources for getting started with a subject about which you know very little.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries