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POLS 202: Introduction to American Government & Politics (Nelson): Find Background Info

Before You Search...

Always start with background info. Even though these sources are not considered "scholarly"... 
  • they are excellent tools to get you a basic understanding of your SCOTUS case and the civil liberty or constitutional issues involved
  • they will supply you with the critical keywords necessary for the next step: construct an effective advanced search for scholarly sources

Find Background Info

Before you start more complex research, gain good, grounded background info on your topic.


1. Click the Gale Virtual Reference Library link
2. First do a basic search on your case, example: Gonzalez v. Oregon

First, search on the name of your court case, for example: Gonzalez v. Oregon

3. Next, search for the topic of your case and find results with a legal focus, example: assisted suicide, euthanasia, Death with Dignity Act

Next, search for the topic of your case and find results with a legal focus, example: assisted suicide

Searching and using reference books

How to use a reference article effectively

  • First, find important words or concepts (see highlighted words in image below)
  • Then use those as search words to find other books, journals, videos and websites

(Click to enlarge the image below)

Graphic showing how to pull ideas and keywords out of an article

Reference books through Google Books

  1. First, click on the image below for tips on finding reference books (encyclopedias and handbooks) through Google Books

(Click to enlarge the image below)

image of an advanced search page in Google Books

  1. Then, click below to perform your search.

How to effectively read a reference article

Highlight Key Concepts

  • First, find important words or concepts (see highlighted words in example below)
  • Then use those as search words to find other books, journals, videos and websites

(Click to enlarge the image below)

GVRL Global Warming reference article

Selected Reference Books (ebooks)

Selected Websites