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Encyclopedias and Handbooks
These resources provide access to reference material including topical summaries, data, properties, facts and figures.
Books are a great source of background information on a topic. They are more specific than encyclopedias, but they're still general enough to be understandable early in the research process. One thing to be aware of with this type of literature, however, is that the information contained is not terribly up-to-date, as the publication process for a book is lengthy.
Franklin: Penn's Library Catalog
Link to the native interface for Penn's library catalog, which searches the holdings of all 15 libraries on campus.
BorrowDirect and E-ZBorrow
Search the catalogs of partner institutions that promise a 3-5 day delivery of books unavailable at Penn.
Interlibrary Loan Article Request
ILL will obtain journal articles and conference papers not available in Penn Library collections. Deliver is usually with 24-48 hours.
Google Books Search
Allows you to search the full text of selected books. You may need to register for a free account at https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount if you do not already have one.
Reviews are another great source of background information. They include information about:
- who the prominent researchers are
- what gaps exist in the research
- what current debates are ongoing
- key articles published on your topic
Most databases include a filter that allows you to limit your search by publication type and just search for reviews.
Also be sure to check the publication date of the review. An older review will not include more recent advances.