Find background information in reference works.
- A reference work will give a brief overview of the topic (i.e., encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.).
- You can learn about the issues in, and major players writing and working on, your topic.
- You will learn the vocabulary of the topic, which will help you understand more specialized literature and use the topic's terminology correctly.
- You can find key concepts and alternative terms (synonyms) that will allow you to search your topic in the library catalog, research databases, and bibliographies and indexes.
Find comprehensive information in books.
- Books are the best source of information for the history of, and accumulated knowledge on, most topics.
- Books in libraries are chosen for their quality and are thus reliable sources of information.
Update your information with periodical literature.
- Because most books take at least a year to publish, they are frequently out of date by the time they are included in libraries. This is especially true of books on "hot" topics.
- Periodical literature (articles in journals and magazines) is published more quickly and more frequently than books, so it is more up-to-date.
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