How To Find Authoritative Background On Any Subject


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When you’re doing research or looking for information on a particular subject, it’s a lot like a detective checking all his possible clues. The important thing is knowing who and where your sources are.

In almost all instances, your first move should be to your encyclopedia. if you don’t have an up-to-date set, there’s always your public library.

Most of the time, and encyclopedia will give you at least the general facts about your subject. You may have to check other sources for more detailed information.

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Thus, your next move should be books that have been written on the subject. The subject and title sections of the card catalog or the bound volumes of computer printouts in most public libraries will give you plenty of listings.

After you’ve selected a number of books for background information, check the magazines either directly related to your subject, or those carrying articles on the subject. Most of the time, you’ll find that magazines will provide you with more up-to-date timely information than books.

To check out information on your subject in magazines, look in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. Under subject and author headings, the complete collection of this guide will list articles printed in magazines since the turn of the century. The Suggestions For Use section will instruct you on how to read the codes under each heading. If you can’t find your subject listed, think of similar subjects that might be related.

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If your subject is part of a particular field of study, there may be a special index that will help you. Among these special indexes, you’ll find: Art Index, Business Periodicals Index, Consumers Index, Education Index, Humanities Index, Social Science Index, Biological and Agricultural Index, and Applies Sciences and Technology Index. You’ll even find a Popular Periodicals Index which lists articles that have appeared in currently popular magazines.

You’ll also find that most newspapers are veritable goldmines of reference material. Most of the big city newspapers have computerized indexes. Several of the special national newspapers such as Wall Street Journal also have reference indexes.

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