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Gathering background information, getting a general overview, and building context for your topic are some of the first steps to doing research. You may also pick up related terms, concepts, and synonyms you can use in your searching.
Some good places to look for background information are:
Basic books (handbooks, possibly textbooks)
Libraries have subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries that have more information than reference books you may have seen before.
Other Reference Resources
The library has databases that are collections of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works.
A collection of onine reference material that covers sociology, social work, multicultural and gender studies,political science, psychology, anthropology, criminal justice, health & medicine. Main page allows for searching across all titles and subjects in the collection.
Alkek reference source for ideas on keywords and background information. Has images and concept map too. See the tutorial below and more info about Credo Reference below.
Congressional Research Service
Congressional Research Service reports are reports written by a non-partisan think tank for members of Congress. These are great for getting an overview of somewhat difficult topics. They also can lead you to fantastic sources of information. These not freely accessible from the government. However, luckily there are those out there who have made them available online:
The First Edition of the Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change provided a multi-authored, academic, yet non-technical resource for students and teachers to understand the importance of global warming, to appreciate the effects of human activity and greenhouse gases around the world, and to learn the history of climate change and the research enterprise examining it.
This book provides a holistic consideration of climate change that goes beyond pure science, fleshing out the discussion by considering cultural, historical, and policy-driven aspects of this important issue.
Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water by Thomas D. Potter; Bradley R. Colman (Editor)The Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts is the first of two stand-alone volumes that will be landmarks in the meteorological literature for many years to come. Each volume encompasses both fundamental topics and critical issues that have recently surfaced in studies of the hydrosphere and atmosphere. Renowned experts have contributed to every part of this handbook. Each overview chapter is followed by topic-specific chapters written by specialists who present comprehensive discussions at a greater level of detail and complexity. The Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts covers topics that are essential for grasping the scientific bases of major issues such as global climate warming, the ozone hole, acid rain, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters. Cross-references between chapters allow readers to easily pursue a specific interest beyond a particular subtopic or individual chapter. Other topics include: Aerosols and smog Cloud chemistry Greenhouse gases Remote sensing techniques in hydrology Hydrologic forecasting and simulation Tropical deforestation effects on the climate system Societal impacts of the El Ni#65533;o phenomenon The Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts will be an essential addition to the libraries of professionals and academics in the environmental sciences, and a valuable source book for university and technical libraries throughout the world.
Call Number: QC861.3 .P67 2003
Publication Date: 2003
Hot Topics & Controversial Issues Databases
The Alkek Library provides access to many databases that give background information on current issues. These databases are often starting spots for research. You can use them to get background information and context before you look for more in-depth and peer-reviewed resources.
In-depth coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, economy, and global affairs. Reports include an introductory overview; background and chronology (timeline - very helpful!) on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.