Finding Background Information
Wikipedia is the best-known encyclopedia today. Contributors sometimes do an excellent job of summarizing ideas and providing useful sources, and it's often very up-to-date. However it varies in quality and suffers from some biases in terms of what is covered. It is also difficult for some topics to be covered with the "neutral point of view" called for in Wikipedia's guidelines. Consider using one of the specialized reference tools found in the library's reference section.
- CQ Researcher
In-depth, analytical reporting on the most current and controversial issues of the day. Published by Congressional Quarterly, with its tradition of nonpartisan reporting and analysis, each CQ Researcher presents a balanced account of an issue on the public agenda. The objective, forward-looking reporting that characterizes these articles is designed to encourage discussion, to help readers think critically and to facilitate further research.
Location(s): Ref H 35 .E352 [year]
- Encyclopedia of American Social Movements
Organized by topic rather than alphabetically, this set covers the antislavery movement, civil rights, the women's movement, labor, Native American, religious and Utopian, antiwar and student movements, LGBT, environmental, and global justice movements, each with in-depth chronological coverage and analysis.
Location(s): Ref HN 57 .E594 2004
- Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America
Offers in depth articles on over 500 topics related to GLBT history, including events, communities, individuals, professions, legal issues, and topics such as "coming out," "closet," and "gay liberation."
Location(s): Ref HQ 76.3 .U5 E53 2004
- Encyclopaedia Judaica
An excellent source for information on the Jewish people and religion, offering scholarly and in-depth articles, recently updated to include current research on historical and contemporary topics.
Location(s): Ref DS 102.8 .E496 2007
- Encyclopedia of Race and Racism
This three-volume set covers many issues related to race and racism from multidisciplinary perspectives, providing essays on topics such as racial formation, multiculturalism, internalized racism, groups of people, organizations, key legislation and court cases, and topics such as families, body politics, and sexism.
Location(s): Ref E 184 .A1 E584 2008
- Encyclopedia of Religion
Covers religions from around the world and through history as well as people and ideas related to religion. The articles are written by experts in their fields and include excellent bibliographies. This new edition includes hundreds of new articles, thoroughly revised coverage of all topics in religion, and a handful of "visual essays" that illustrate visual culture as a significant aspect of religion.
Location(s): Ref BL 31 .E46 2005
- Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender
Broad theoretical essays address issues of sex and gender at the personal and the social level; others examine issues of identity, status, class, ethnicity, race, and nation; of sexuality and the body; of social institutions and the structures of representation - all through the lens of gender.
Location(s): Ref HQ16 .E52 2007
- Essential Psychopathology and its Treatment
Ref RC454 .M3 2009
Covers the clinical presentation, management, and treatment of major mental illnesses and provides an overview of how mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated, including etiology,psychopharmacology, and related legal, ethical, and cultural issues.
- Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life
Offers lengthy articles on over 500 culture groups worldwide. Each article surveys the location and homeland of the people and covers a wealth of information on such topics as their language, folklore, religion, rites of passage, interpersonal relations, living conditions, family life, cultural heritage, work, and social issues. Each entry includes a selective bibliography.
Location(s): Ref GN 333 .W67 2009
In many cases, there are organizations that advocate for groups of people or for causes. They often have good background information on their websites. Some "think tanks" gather information and make policy recommendations, but some of these organizations are aligned with a political philosophy and reflect a particular perspective. Take care that the advocacy mission of an organization doesn't unduly influence the information presented; in other words, read their "about" statement critically and assess whether the information they present is even-handed or not. To find organizations, you can search Google by topic and add at the end of your search terms site:.org to limit a search to organizations.
Government agencies also may have an interest in particular groups of people or issues. Think about which agencies might be interested in your topic and search for their websites or search by topic and add to the end of your search terms site:.gov
- GAO Reports by Topic
The Government Accountability Office provides even-handed, non-partisan reports to Congress on a wide variety of topics. Use this index to see what reports they've published on an area of interest.
- Open CRS: Congressional Research Reports for the People
A clearinghouse of over 8,000 reports on a wide variety of topics created by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for members of Congress. Though these reports are highly useful, they are not made public unless released by a member of Congress. From the Center for Democracy & Technology. (Another guide to CRS reports is available from the University of North Texas Libraries.)
Finding Images to Use in Presentations
- Pew Research Center
A nonpartisan think tank (or self-styled "fact tank")that combines several projects that gather information on a variety of topics affecting public policy and public attitudes. Among the topics addressed are the press, religion, the Internet, social trends, global attitudes, and Hispanic America. Its focus is on gathering data rather than on making recommendations.
- Flickr: Creative Commons
User-uploaded images in Flickr that are available under a Creative Commons license for general use.
- Flickr: The Commons
This section of the popular photo-sharing site is populated with images from libraries and museums that have no known copyright restrictions. It's a great resource for historical images.
WorldImages contains over 50,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. Its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes. Use a variety of search techniques, or browse some 500 portfolios organized into subject groupings. (Description from home page.)
- Multi-Disciplinary Databases
- Academic Search Premier
The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
- Google Scholar
This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. It is stronger in the sciences than in the humanities, with social sciences somewhere in between. One interesting feature of Google Scholar is that in includes a link to sources that cite a particular item. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
- Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
A multidisciplinary index with searchable author abstracts covering the journal literature of the social sciences, including anthropology, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, political science, public health, social work, sociology, urban studies, and women's studies. SSCI indexes more than 1,725 journals spanning 50 disciplines. In addition, it is possible to retrieve a list of works that have cited a specific author or specific work. May be searched simultaneously with Arts & Humanities Citation Index and/or Science Citation Index Expanded through the Web of Science interface.
- Subject-Specific Databases
- CINAHL Plus with Full Text (Nursing)
Provides indexing for over 3,800 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health dating back to 1937; includes full text for more than 750 of those journals. Also includes Evidence-Based Care Sheets.
Citations and abstracts to articles from more than 1300 international journals in psychology and related fields, going back to 1840. This database covers all areas of psychology, including experimental, developmental, communications, social processes and issues, personality, physical and psychological disorders, professional issues, applied psychology, educational psychology, and behavioral literature in such related fields as law, business and medicine. Also includes citations for books and book chapters.
- SAGE Premier
Search the full text to over 500 scholarly journals published by SAGE in a range of disciplines, including many social sciences titles. Many journals include full backfiles - back to 1960s or earlier. To search articles by discipline, click on the "Browse" tab, then click on the "Articles by Discipline" tab.
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