Explore a Topic Through Background Info
There's a good reason why Wikipedia is one of the most visited sites on the web: Wikipedia articles provide a concise overview of complex topics. Sometimes we don't need to read a whole book to get the background information we need. Instead, when you need to get the gist of something, it's a time-saving approach to look for a summative information source like Wikipedia to get a handle on a topic. Although handy, Wikipedia is typically not considered "academic" and would not stand up as an authoritative source in your classes.
Library encyclopedias are a great place to find authoritative sources that provide useful background infromation on a topic. They can also be a great place to explore potential topics for a research paper.
View this video on picking a topic
Sources for Finding General Information
When you're getting started on a new project, there are many different types of places you can look for general information about a topic.
Types of sources for general information include the following:
- Wikipedia - a great starting point, but not recommended as a final source for acaedmic projects.
- Gale Virtual Reference Library - has lots of online encyclopedias that are like Wikipedia but better. And you can cite them!
- Britannica Online - a wonderful starting point by providing an introductory overviews of many topics.