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About Background Sources
Background Sources are books, encyclopedias, almanacs, reference books, etc. that contain condensed information about a subject. This allows the reader to "get up to speed" quickly on that subject; therefore, background sources are usually the best, first place to start your research. When using this type of source, you should note the following:
- The time to publish these types of materials is generally longer than that for journal articles, so they may not provide the most up-to-date information. Nevertheless, they can provide a good idea of what is going on in a field of study.
- These sources are classified as tertiary sources, since they are most often compilations, condensed versions, and/or commentaries on original works. Tertiary sources themselves are not usually used as a direct reference for scholarly work - the researcher should find the original source from which the tertiary version is based. References found within the background source can lead to primary research and notable authors that will assist you in the rest of your research.
- Reading or scanning these sources can inform you of terminology that is relevant to the subject, which will help identify keywords for article searches.
Find a Subject to Research
Science In Context (Gale) This link opens in a new windowAn engaging online resource providing contextual information on hundreds of today's most significant science topics. By integrating authoritative, curriculum-aligned reference content with headlines and videos, Science In Context draws students into the subject matter, showing how scientific disciplines relate to real-world issues, from weather patterns to obesity.
Engineering Videos (ASP) This link opens in a new windowContent includes a wide-ranging survey of engineering, environmental studies, natural history, and the physical and biological sciences, and focuses on their practical, ground-level applications. Thousands of documentaries, instructional materials, how-to guides, and lectures provide an engaging, hands-on framework from which to explore the inner workings of the cell, the outer workings of the solar system, and everything in between. Science and Engineering also examines larger issues around scientific exploration, such as patent law and ethics, fostering interdisciplinary conversations on key themes in the humanities and social sciences.
Science Videos (ASP) This link opens in a new windowContent includes a wide-ranging survey of engineering, environmental studies, natural history, and the physical and biological sciences, and focuses on their practical, ground-level applications. Thousands of documentaries, instructional materials, how-to guides, and lectures provide an engaging, hands-on framework from which to explore the inner workings of the cell, the outer workings of the solar system, and everything in between. Science and Engineering also examines larger issues around scientific exploration, such as patent law and ethics, fostering interdisciplinary conversations on key themes in the humanities and social sciences.
Government Research Programs & Sites
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Review Background Sources
Britannica Online This link opens in a new windowBritannica Online is one of the most comprehensive, authoritative information databases on the Internet. It contains three encyclopedias, Encyclopedia Britannica, Britannica Student Encyclopedia, and Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia. Itis continually updated to provide the most current information possible. Access to over 150 full-text journals is included at no additional cost with subscriptions to Britannica Online. Britannica Online features include: Over 73,000 articles from the printed Encyclopedia Britannica including more than 8,500 articles that are not found in the print set, plus 7,000 articles from the Britannica Books of the Year. Links to over 300,000 related sites on the Internet, selected for content by Britannica editors. Over 17,000 illustrations, maps and graphics. Thousands of sounds, animations and video clips covering topics ranging from rainforests to the Holocaust.
Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (EBSCO) This link opens in a new windowProvides the full-text of over 25,000 encyclopedic entries searchable by subject or keywords. Updated annually.
Gale Virtual Reference Library - General Sciences This link opens in a new windowGeneral Sciences collection for Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online This link opens in a new windowChoose one of four dictionaries (Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Cambridge Dictionary of American English, Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms, or Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs); then enter a word to read a definition.
Means Illustrated Construction Dictionary This link opens in a new windowThis concise student edition of the most widely used dictionary for construction and design professionals offers clear explanations of essential construction-related terms and concepts. Illustrated throughout with explanatory drawings and photographs, it is an indispensable reference for beginning and advanced students in construction, architecture, design, facility management, real estate, and other related fields. Features include: Easy-to-understand definitions of nearly 10,000 terms, phrases, and abbreviations from every area of construction. More than 1,400 drawings and photographs that help clarify concepts. Up-to-date coverage of new industry trends, including building automation, energy conservation, green building, historic preservation, and more. An extensive reference section with plan symbols, conversions and equivalents, and more.
Safari Books Online This link opens in a new windowThe new Safari features a curated library of the best technical books today. It includes titles from Pearson, OReilly Media, and more - organized by the most popular subjects, from web development and mobile apps to entrepreneurship and UX/IA, to name a few. Previously Safari Tech Books.
ASME Digital Library This link opens in a new windowThe ASME Digital Library is ASME's primary repository of current and archival literature featuring ASME's Transaction Journals. To view what is currently available, use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate to the publication of your choice, then click on the "Available Volume List." Our subscription includes the journals but not the other content.
SpringerLink This link opens in a new windowSpringer publishes millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works and proceedings.
Synthesis Digital Library This link opens in a new windowEngineering and computer science electronic books that synthesize an important research or development topic, authored by an expert contributor to the field.
Elsevier ScienceDirect This link opens in a new windowAlternate title: ScienceDirect. Science Direct is the world's largest electronic collection of science, technology, and medicine full-text and bibliographic information.
Quick Links to Medical Materials eBooks found in the library