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What is a background source?
Background sources are written for a general audience and are intended to give an overview of a topic, fill gaps in the reader’s knowledge, and provide context for deeper understanding. Examples include Wikipedia, introductory textbooks, and reference works such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. They can be a useful place to start your research and can assist in selecting a topic for a research project, locating basic information and key facts, defining important words and concepts, and getting suggestions for additional sources to consult.
Typical characteristics of background sources:
- intended to be informative
- provide context, background, or summary information
- present shared information and established facts; information is uncontested
- offer suggestions for additional sources of information on the topic
Encyclopedias & Handbooks
Class in America by
Publication Date: 2007-06-30
Surveys the breadth of class strata throughout our history, for high school students to the general public. Class is illuminated in 525 essay entries on significant people, terms, theories, programs, institutions, eras, ethnic groups, places, and much more.
Encyclopedia of Sociology
Publication Date: 2000-11-16
Articles covering core issues such as race, poverty, violence, economics, pregnancy and abortion have been updated and expanded, and completely new articles have been written on topics such as the Internet, privacy and epidemiology.
Encyclopedia of Social Theory by
Publication Date: 2004-08-19
Examines the global landscape of all the key theories and the theorists behind them and presents them in the context needed to understand the strengths and weaknesses of all the key areas of the discipline.
Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behaviour by
Publication Date: 2000-11-10
Over 550 entries covering a variety of topics related to criminology, deviant behavior, and other unusual sociological phenomena. Each entry includes a comprehensive definition of the term, concise practical information (such as tables and/or diagrams) and a bibliography.
The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology by
Publication Date: 2000-01-01
Aimed primarily at students, with a combination of clear prose, engaging examples, a single author's voice, and its minimal assumptions about the average reader's prior knowledge of sociology and its related fields, makes this a unique and valuable reference work.
Racial and ethnic diversity in America : a reference handbook by
Publication Date: 2003
Racial and Ethnic Diversity in America: A Reference Handbook documents how diversity as part of the social fabric of American society has changed its character over time. Adalberto Aguirre, an expert on race and ethnic relations, provides a descriptive presentation of racial and ethnic populations in America, with special focus on the latter part of the 20th century.
The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology by
Publication Date: 2007-01-23
Provides clear, concise, expert definitions and explanations of the key concepts. Presents materials that have historically defined the discipline, but also more recent developments, significantly updating the store of sociological knowledge.
Women and Equality in the Workplace by
Publication Date: 2003-10-08
This work is a guide to women's quest for fairness in the workplace, making the great legal and social advances, and as as continuing inequalities. It provides statistics on women's employment, the gender divide in occupations, and sex differentials in earnings.
Work in America by
Publication Date: 2003-12-05
This text analyzes work and the workforce in America from the Industrial Revolution to the era of globalization. Its 265 entries examine key disciplines such as economics, public policy, law, human and civil rights, cultural studies, and organizational psychology.
The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods by
Call Number: Main Reference H62 .S34 2004
Publication Date: 2003-12-15
The Encyclopedia features two major types of entries: definitions, consisting of a paragraph or two, which provide a quick explanation of a methodological term; and topical treatments or essays, discussing the nature, history, application/example and implication of using a certain method. Tackles topics not normally viewed as part of social science research methodology, from philosophical issues such as poststructuralism to advanced statistical techniques.