Foundations of Academic Literacy (FAL): Background information

General encyclopedias

Use encyclopedias to find background information about your topic.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library Try this first if you are unsure where to search. Contains over 600 reference sources across a wide range of topics.
  • Canadian encyclopedia "bilingual national edition produced by, for and about the people of a single country, charting its events, culture, history and landscape"
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica -- "timely, relevant, and trustworthy information" [online or print]
  • World Book Encyclopedia [print]​
  • Junior Worldmark encyclopedia of world cultures "easy-to-use, systematic guide to the history and current status of more than 290 cultural groups" (Afghanistan to Zimbabwe)

For more encyclopedias, see Online Reference Sources: Encyclopedias including subject-specific ones.

General dictionaries

Use dictionaries to better understand words and concepts.

For more dictionaries, see Online Reference Sources: Dictionaries including subject-specific ones.

Internet research

  • "In a world where questionable information is rampant" (to quote Encyclopaedia Britannica) be very careful about which information you choose to cite from the Web. As anyone can publish just about anything on the Web, make sure to always carefully evaluate any online information that you find using Google or other Web search tools.
  • Start with the SFU Library guide Finding and evaluating resources.