Before getting started finding scholarly, peer-reviewed articles, you may need to gather some background knowledge on your research topic. The library has a few encyclopedic databases that provide background information, or presearch. These databases include:

Gale Virtual Reference Library– multidisciplinary research of all fields. Excellent for research ranging from legal to religious to scientific topics. Articles tend to be longer and they have subsections for topics within larger fields that can help narrow your research topic.

Credo Reference– A powerful, interdisciplinary database that is particularly strong in finding country-specific information and controversial issues.

CQ Researcher– Covers the most current and controversial issues of the day with summaries, pros and cons, bibliographies and more.

Encyclopedia Britannica– Short, well-written encyclopedia articles on a vast number of topics.

Oxford English Dictionary– A powerful dictionary tool for finding the definition, history, etymologies, and quotations of specific words.

Tips and tricks for using presearch databases:

  1. As you read articles about your topic, write down keywords such as names and concepts frequently associated with the topic. These keywords can be used to construct new searches when you are looking for longer, peer-reviewed articles.
  2. Identify parts of your topics you are passionate about researching. Narrowing your research can strengthen your overall argument.
  3. Use the bibliographies or cited sources lists of the articles you read to find additional information about your topic.