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Find background information

Use the resources on this page to get to know a new research area or choose a topic for a paper. These are not necessarily sources you can cite in a paper, but they will help you understand the basics and come up with keywords to use when you search for sources later.

Open web searches (Google, Wikipedia, etc.)

Feel free to begin your research on Google, as long as it doesn't end there. Use this time to try out different keywords for your topic.

Review articles

Some databases, including American Physical Society Journals and Scopus, allow you to filter results to see only review articles. These kinds of articles give a broad overview of scholarship in a topic and are a good place to start your research. The databases section has more on these resources.


Books are a great place to start your research because they take the time to explain things you may not understand (unlike journal articles). You don't have to read the whole book! Search for books using Library Search:

  • Use the filters to the left of the search results to select "books".
  • Most of our more recent science books are available as e-books. To access physical books, come to the library and ask at the desk for help finding it on the shelf.


Try one of the specialized encyclopedias below for expert-written articles on your topic, including citations to important sources.

Physics Encyclopedias


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Micaela Carignano
1050 Waldo Library