How Do I Find an Overview of or Background Information on My Topic?

An encyclopedia is a good place to look for an overview of a topic. A dictionary is a good place to look for definitions of concepts. Both these resources can often be found either online or in print.

You can find encyclopedias and dictionaries through the Subject Guides or through Discover:

  • Subject Guides: Take a look at the Subject Guides List and select your broad subject area. Encyclopedias are found under the section headed Background Information, and dictionaries are in Concepts & Definitions.
  • Discover: Use Discover to search for your topic, adding either encyclop* or dictionar*.  For example, world food encyclop* will find titles such as World Food: an encyclopedia of history, culture and social influence from hunter-gatherers to the age of globalization and Encyclopedia of food microbiology.

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