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Why use background info?
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