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  24/7 A Library Research Guide and Webletter

#2 LOCATING BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Look up your keywords in the indexes to subject encyclopedias. Read articles in these encyclopedias to set the context for your research. Take note of relevant items in the bibliographies or "for further reading" sections at the end of the encyclopedia articles. These can lead to further information on your topic. Additional background information may be found in lecture notes, textbooks, reserve readings and authoritative web sites. Develop your search skills and practice often!

Web sites
AlterNet
project of the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting independent and alternative journalism
Britannica.com
premier web encyclopedia available for Oakton users
Encyclopedias:Google Directory
links to encyclopedias on a wide variety of subjects
HowStuffWorks.com
award-winning web site of thousands of articles on how things work "from the inside out"
infoplease.com
online dictionary, atlas, almanac and internet encyclopedia
Internet Public Library
created by a team of librarians, this award-winning web site was one of the first subject directories on the web
Internet Scout Report
one of the Internet's longest running weeklies offering new & newly discovered resources
Public Agenda Online
nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research & citizen education organization based in New York city
Washington File:U.S. Dept. of State
official texts of US government, policy statements, interpretive material, features and by-line articles prepared daily


Encyclopedias
Look for general and subject specific encyclopedias in the reference collection.

Full text Magazine, Journal and Newspaper Articles
News articles in a newspaper or general magazine can also give you a starting point for your research. Use an online periodical index such as Expanded Academic ASAP to locate background information in full text magazine and journal articles.

Tip
Exploit bibliographies! Remember that many of the books and articles you find will have bibliographies or a "works cited" page, too. By routinely checking these sources for additional relevant resources, you can generate a surprisingly large number of books and articles in a relatively short time.

Remember
Finding background information about a topic is an important step of the research process. If you're interested in pursuing a topic which is unfamiliar to you, reading an encyclopedia or general article about the subject can help you to clarify your topic and point out areas for additional research.

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