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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
Grove Music Online
Online music encyclopedia, offering comprehensive coverage of music, musicians, music-making, and music scholarship.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Handbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias in a wide range of subject areas, including Arts, Biography, Business, Education, Environment, History, Law, Literature, Medicine, Multicultural Studies, Nation and World, Religion, Science, and Social Sciences.
Oxford Research Encyclopedias
Designed to be an authoritative resource of reference content in a wide array of academic fields, including the humanities, social sciences, and science.
Hundreds of dictionaries, general reference, language reference, and subject reference works from Oxford University Press.
Oxford Art Online
A suite of four comprehensive art encyclopedias. Useful for scholarly overviews and excellent bibliographies.
Freud's World by
Publication Date: 2012-05-08
Comprising well-known and obscure information, this compendium provides a historical context to the facts of Sigmund Freud's life, theories, and influence on society.
Historical Dictionary of Austria by
Publication Date: 2009-06-11
Austrians today often seem to believe that they have two histories. One is their republican present; the other, the centuries that their forebears spent as part of the multi-ethnic Habsburg Empire. Contemporary Austria is a fixture among Europe's democracies. Yet, it did not achieve this state easily: World War I, the unification with Germany in 1938, and World War II were catastrophes for Austria. In 1995, it became part of the European Union, and its government, culture, and egalitarian economy are far cries from the monarchical and highly stratified society of the old Empire.
Historical Dictionary of Vienna by
Call Number: Main Library DB846 .C73 1999
Publication Date: 1999-02-18
Vienna can boast of a great deal of culture and history despite its relatively small size. Indeed, the city has a long and rich history. From the medieval feudal town to the twentieth-century bastion of music, theater, and culture, Vienna has weathered changes for the good and the ill. Vienna's rich history has not gone unnoticed by scholars, both Austrians and others.
Major Figures of Turn-of-the-Century Austrian Literature by
Call Number: Main Library PT3817.M35 1991
Publication Date: 1990-11-01
The purpose of this projected seven-volume series is to help make the major figures of Austrian literature from 1800 to the present accessible to an English-speaking audience. The introductions provide an overview of the cultural and political background of the age to furnish a broader context for the individual contributions. Bibliographies of primary and secondary texts enhance the value of the volumes as reference works.