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Research 101

Finding & Using Background (Reference) Sources

UPDATE TO VIDEO!! To read any online articles from off-campus, you now sign in using the same username and password that you use for Blackboard!

Reference articles for background information

Reference articles (see video above if you haven't yet!) 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. Use 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. 


2. Use OneSearch to find reference articles 

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

Screenshot of OneSearch result lists with "Resource Type" and "Show More" encircled.

(Image: OneSearch result lists with "Resource Type" and "Show More" encircled.)

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.

"Reference Resources" encircled in resource type list















(Image: "Reference Resources" encircled in resource type list.)


Each result will give you the name of the article or chapter, the name of the publication it is from, the date, and other key information. Most are online articles.

Screenshot of OneSearch results list after reference resources filter has been selected(Image: OneSearch results with chapter title "Pandemic," book title "Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health", publication date 2020, page numbers 882-826," and "Available Online" link encircled.)

When you click on "available online", you will be presented with options for reading:Screenshot of links to access article online











(Image: list of databases with "Try a link below!" encircled.)

Having more than one link here just means that we have the same resource in more than one database.