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Research 101 (older version): Background sources - reference articles

Background sources

Reference articles help you become more familiar with the important questions, events, and people within your topic and the vocabulary used by experts that can help you with later searches. These are often a good places to start your research. Here are two different ways to find reference articles.

1. Using a reference article-only database

You can use a database like Gale Virtual Reference Library to find background articles in academic encyclopedias, usually written by professors to provide an overview of a topic. Gale Virtual Reference Library has articles on a wide range of topics.


2. Using OneSearch to find reference articles 

In OneSearch, to limit your results to reference articles, use the "resource type" filter on the right and select "Reference Resources".

resource type filter on the right

PLEASE NOTE: this list is arranged A-Z. If you don't see the words "Reference Resources" you need to click on "show more" to see the whole list.

show more

reference resources circled


What are reference resources and how should I use them?

UPDATE Please note that from fall 2020 onwards, you do NOT have to activate your ID - just sign in with the same username and password that you use for Blackboard!