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Seven Steps to Library Research: Topic Context

Seven Steps to Library Research - A step-by-step guide to efficient research using your MSJC Library.

Using Encyclopedia Articles, Dictionaries and Reference Books to Understand a Topic

Once you have identified the main topic and keywords for your research, find articles from these sources for background information. These sources will help you understand the context of your topic and tell you what is known about it. The most common background sources are Encyclopedias and Dictionaries, Handbooks and other Reference Sources from our print and online reference collection. 



MSJC Library has 2 online encyclopedia databases that you can search for general information on your topic: Credo Reference and Gale Virtual Reference Library.

You can also ask your reference librarian to suggest appropriate titles.





Remember that many of the books and articles you find will themselves have bibliographies. Check these bibliographies for additional useful resources for your research.

You can create a large number of books and articles on your topic in a relatively short time by routinely following up on sources cited in bibliographies.