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HSC 304: Environmental Health: Background

Overviews & Background

Useful Background Summaries

Online Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Smarter Google Searching

Google can be a great resource for finding overviews, reports, and government information. But a basic Google search is going to bring back a lot of biased junk, conspiracy theories, and more. Search Google smarter by adding your own keyword(s) to the preformatted Google search below which will limit results to US government sites.

Google Web Search

How to Maximize Reference Sources

Reference Examples


References sources, particularly specialized encyclopedias, offer many benefits. Consider the following tips as you review a reference source on your topic to reap all the benefits and make your researching even better.


  • Get definitions and background - Reference sources assume that you are new to a topic. Jargon and specialized terminology will be explained and contextualized, which you might not get in more advanced books and journal articles.
  • Get caught-up on a topic - Research is a conversation, and often it has been going on for years. Reference sources will provide a historical background and identify key developments to help you understand how we got to the current understandings and theories.
  • Identify key people and theories - Who are the most important people and ideas on your topic? Reference sources will help you identify them so you can explore their lives and research more deeply.
  • Find more sources - Reference sources will provide additional reading, usually in the form of references or background lists. These are a great next-step in your research process.