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.
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.
Elsevier Reference Works (and books)
There are various ways to search this extensive collection:
You can also use the following links:
Magazine and Newspaper articles
Popular articles from magazines and newspapers can:
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.
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.
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: