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ESL 143-01: Graduate Research Paper (Kowalewski): Find Background

Find Background Information

Before plunging into research, it is good to know the basics of your topic. Basic information that is both authoritative and reliable can most quickly be found in reference works, like general and specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks. Gumberg Library can provide you with many such resources in both electronic and print formats.

On this page you can easily access electronic reference works.To get to selected  print reference works, point to the "Find Background Information" tab. Then, from the pulldown menu, choose "Print Reference Works." You may also want to try the current events databases in the box below.

Current Events Database

Click the image above to use this database

CQ Researcher gives objective overviews of hot topics in the news, including environmental issues. The articles give opinions on all sides of an issue, and are good sources of statistics. A great resource for beginning research.

To use this database off-campus, you will need to enter you Multipass username and password.

Using Wikipedia

Using Wikipedia is an easy and convenient way to begin gaining a basic knowledge of a topic. If you choose to use it, be aware that there are two serious flaws with Wikipedia. The first is that anyone can write articles for it. You do not have to be an expert on a subject. The second is that anyone can edit the articles. Again, you do not have to be an expert on the subject. These two points raise doubts as to the accuracy of what you read there. Because of the problems regarding the authority of the writers of Wikipedia articles, gain what information you can from them, but do not use Wikipedia as a source for academic writing.

Electronic Reference Collections

Gumberg Library subscribes to a number of collections of electronic reference works. These cover all subject areas, and in most cases, you are able to search all the titles in a collection at once. This means you do not have to have in mind a particular book to search.

Electronic Reference Works

Below is a list of relevant reference works that can be accessed electronically.

To access these electronic reference works off-campus, you must enter your Multipass username and password.

Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability

There is no shortage of information about environmental problems and no dearth of people calling themselves experts on sustainability. In fact, there is all too much information, and strident voices with opposing claims and frightening predictions. Now, however, the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability solves the problem of information overload. The ten-volume set includes concise overviews from experts on an array of sustainability-related topics, compiled into thematic volumes. The reader will find solid research data, thorough analyses, and jargon-free discussion, effectively transforming a fast-developing research domain.

To use a volume in this electronic reference work, just click the title of a volume below. To use these volumes off-campus, you will need to enter your Multipass information when you click on a title link.