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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
Hundreds of dictionaries, general reference, language reference, and subject reference works from Oxford University Press.
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.
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.
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.
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences by
Publication Date: 2007-11-01
Nine volumes that highlight the expanding influence of economics in social science research. Articles cover a wide array of global topics, including: achievement testing, censorship, personality measurement, aging, income distribution, foreign aid (political and economic aspects), food (world problems, consumption patterns), cultural adaptation, comparative health-care systems, terrorism, political correctness, agricultural innovation, legislation of morality, sexual violence and exploitation, white collar crime.
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 Gender and Society by
Publication Date: 2008-11-26
A comprehensive, two-volume encyclopedia covering the major theories, research, people and issues in contemporary gender studies. The work will be distinguished by a cross-nationaloss-cultural perspective providing comparative analyses of life experiences of men and women around the world.
Encyclopedia of Race and Racism by
Publication Date: 2013-02-15
Religion, political economy, social activism, health, concepts, and constructs are explored.