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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Bios 90 Your Brain in the News FALL 2020

Background Information

Background information gives you a mental map of your topic plus helps understand the main concepts or jargon used in scholarly articles you read for the class.

There are many resources (encyclopedias, dictionaries, Wikipedia used judiciously, etc.) to identify background information sources that help you with this. Some the library pays for, others you can find on the open web. See below.

Below, also see:

"Using Google to Find Background Information."  Use the Advanced Google search feature. 

Using the criteria in the box "Evaluating Web Resources", assess if websites that you find using Google are reliable.

Specific Resources for Background Information

The resources below provide valuable backround information. You can also use Wikipedia, which can serve as a stepping stone to discovering academic resources. *Often wikipedia has useful links listed at the bottom of an article.* You will of course have to confirm independently information you find in Wikipedia. Here is a detailed guide about Wikipedia. For discussion of its reliability, see this Wikipedia article titled Reliability of Wikipedia.

TIP: Start with eLS. Example of an article that comes up: Amygdala  (in addition to other items about this topic.) Then try Access Science. Example: see this article about the brain. 

Elsevier Reference Works (and books)

There are various ways to search this extensive collection:

  • Click here. You can refine by Domain on the left, or click on the Advanced Search link (center near top)
  • Click here for journal/book searching
  • Use see the Topic Pages:

You can also use the following links:

Magazine & Newspaper Articles

Magazine and  Newspaper articles

Popular articles from magazines and newspapers can:

  • provide general background information before you turn to academic journal literature;
  • identify late breaking news about important scientific discoveries or developments;
  • point to academic studies that are getting lots of attention; a newspaper or magazine or other popular publication may give a journalistic account of a scientific research project, mention its principal researchers, and mention the academic journal in which the research was published.

NOTE: some of the resources below cover scholarly articles as well as popular sources. See the page of this library guide devoted to scholarly articles. Below is a partial listing--see A to Z Database list and library catalog


To discover books and ebooks, go to ASA, the search engine near the top of the library homepage.  To limit to ebooks, see the video below.


To discover books and ebooks, go to ASA, the library catalog near the top of the library homepage.  See this video tutorial about how to limit your search in ASA to ebooks. .Also, see the  Ebooks library guide.   

Using Advanced Google Search to Find Background Information

You can use Google to find background information.

Use the Google Advanced Search, to do a precise search. Then, evaluate one of the webpages that come up.  The resource below provides ideas about how to evaluate websites.

Evaluating Web Resources

Web resources can be rich sources of information on a topic, but when conducting research, it's important to consider the quality and accuracy of sites you visit on the open web. Use the CRAP test to determine whether a web resource is trustworthy: