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Brainstorming search terms : How and why to use reference/background sources

how to improve your literature search by brainstorming search words

How and why to use reference/background sources

Reference sources (otherwise known as reference resources, or background sources) are designed to help you find specific types of information quickly. 

Use reference sources to:

  • get keywords and names for more effective advanced searching
  • read a quick overview of a new subject
  • find key facts and background information that will help you assess other resources
  • learn definitions of important words or concepts
  • see suggestions for more sources about your topic (including the best-known sources).

Use reference sources before launching into more detailed sources like journal articles and books -- and check back as you dig more deeply into your topic.

Types of reference