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AP Language Passion Project: Background Research

Milner Reference Databases

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Full-text database of encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research

SAGE Knowledge 
Searchable online encyclopedias and handbooks in the social sciences from SAGE Publications -- Encyclopedia of African American Education, Encyclopedia of Perception, Encyclopedia of Case Study Research, Encyclopedia of Drug Policy, 21st Century Political Science: A Reference Handbook ...
Provides short, full text articles on a variety of topics.
Multi-disciplinary compilation of reference sources and includes full text articles, definitions, and quotations. Limited to five simultaneous users.

Background Research

1. See the big picture: An encyclopedia or other reference source can be a good starting point for learning about major concepts on a broad topic. Lengthy articles can outline the subdivisions of a topic, give different perspectives, and report recent trends or scholarship. 

2. Get the facts: Important names, dates, places etc. are often mentioned in background sources.

3. Learn the lingo: Look for key terms, terminology, and definitions. Keep these terms in mind when you begin searching for your topic in online databases or the web. 

4. Check out the author:  Background sources are often written by experts; you may want to look for other works by the same author for your topic.

5. Locate additional sources: Many sources will include a list of additional readings or a bibliography. These references are often the most important works on a topic.

6. Write everything down! Keep a log of the sites you've visited and jot down what you found on them. Your question may change as you research, and something that you did not think you could use in the beginning may become very important to your investigation in the end. It is often difficult to find every site you visited again. But if you've kept track during your web quest, it will be easy to locate that information if you need it in the future.

7. Creating a website log: An easy way to keep a website log is to open a word document and start a list. Copy and paste the URL of each site you visit with a very brief note on what you found there. Or, you could bookmark each URL instead--renaming it to help you remember what was on it. Or, take a screenshots of what you've found and pepper your desktop with them. Organize these into folders, then move them into "My Documents" when you've finished.

8. Creating a database article log: An easy way to keep track of the articles you are finding in EBSCO databases is use the icons on the right to share them to Google Drive, email them to yourself, export them to your device or save the permalink in a log in a Word document or in a Google doc. 

Search Engines and Their Purpose

Below, find some new favorites: