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REA 010/014: Information Literacy/Research Starters

Find background information on your topic

Watch the short video inserted above to learn how to use the Discovery Search. You can then type your topic into the Discovery Search box, linked above the video, to conduct your search. Keep your search simple - just one or two words. Your first search result should be a Research Starter article. This is an article from an encyclopedia that will provide an introduction to your topic along with background information, history, and context. Try this search first!

You may also search the databases linked below for background information on your topic. (Note: These databases can also be accessed from the library home page ( by clicking the red research tab, selecting the drop-down 'By Database Type' and clicking Research Starters. The databases listed below are among the databases that appear.)  Select among the following:

E- Reference Books

When and How to Use the Wikipedia

We often begin our research with a Google search, which frequently returns Wikipedia pages and other similar sources.

You cannot use a Wikipedia article as a direct source for your research paper or project!!! 

As a student, it is okay to use a Wikipedia article only to get an overview or background information on the topic and to get ideas for narrowing the topic by looking at the blue hyperlinks within the article. Avoid using and citing information from a Wikipedia article because anyone can change (edit) the information at any time. This makes the information unreliable for college papers, projects, and other assignments. The editors of the Wikipedia provide this very advice! Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a link to the Wikipedia page titled, Wikipedia: Academic Use. It advises students not to cite a Wikipedia article for research, but rather, to use it only as a starting point for gaining a basic understanding of a topic.    

While you should never cite a Wikipedia article or information directly from the article, you may be able to use web pages listed in the External Links section at the bottom of the article. But you'll need to think critically and consider their appropriateness and relevance to your project before using them. External links may include museum, library, or educational sites --  reputable sites with reliable information. See the screen capture below for the External Links page from the Wikipedia article on Oskar Schindler.

screenshot of Wikipedia entry on Oskar Schindler

screenshot of external links section of Wikipedia article