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Presearch comes before research! Exploring your topic and getting some background information at the start of a research project can help you identify useful information (i.e. a theme or subtopic to focus on, possible questions to be answered, timelines, etc.) and save you time. This is also a good way to refine your search - to take a broad topic (education, for example) and narrow it to something that you can cover in a meaningful way in your paper (do programs like Teach for America really work?).
General Online Reference Resources
(See the boxes below for tips on finding other, more specialized, reference and background information sources.)
Finding Reference and Background Information
1. Select the Griffin catalog and then click on the Advanced Search button.
2. From advanced search select WSU Holland Reference in the Location drop-down menu
3. In the search box, type in a search such as: encyclopedia* topic - this will lead you to the areas in the Holland and Terrell Libraries reference collection that may be relevant for your work.(Why the *? Some encyclopedias may not have Encyclopedia in the title, but will be described as such in the subject classification. Library subjects for types of works (i.e. encyclopedias or dictionaries) are often plural instead of singular).
4. Look for encyclopedias, historical dictionaries, handbooks, statistical books, and other background resource material relevant to your topic.
5. Similar things are generally shelved together, and a call number that provides a spot-on item in the reference collection may lead you to relevant works in the regualr stacks where all the books that can be checked out are shelved. That's serendipity and synchronicity!