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ESAP - Engineering Summer Academy at Penn: Background Information

This guide provide resources in support of the ESAP undergraduate research program.

Encyclopedias and Handbooks

These resources provide access to reference material including topical summaries, data, properties, facts and figures.

Finding Books

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.

New Franklin Search

Search Franklin to determine whether or not Penn owns a book or encyclopedia of interest.

Review Articles

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.