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Research Starter Databases: Home

Check out the best databases to start your research on a topic.

Getting Started

Sometimes when you're starting a new class or researching a new topic, it can be tough to know where to begin looking for resources or where to start on a topic. Reference databases provide introductory information across all academic disciplines with instant access to encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographies and more. Below is a list of reference databases useful for reference and background information.

What is Background Information?

It’s reading up on the subject before you make too many decisions about how you’re going to approach your research. It introduces you to a topic before you dive in, pretending to be an expert.

You wouldn’t start to build a house without a floor plan, would you? Surely, you wouldn’t cook a seven course meal without checking on the ingredients you need? For both building a house and preparing an elaborate meal, planning is essential.

Background information serves the same purpose in research. It is the foundation on which you build good research.

Why Background Information is Important?

  1. It helps you to focus on names, dates, events, organizations, terms, etc., associated with a topic.
  2. It can help you to formulate/reformulate your topic (or, to put it another way, it can help you decide whether to broaden or narrow your topic).
  3. Background sources might include bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources for your project.

Where do you find background information?

Encyclopedias are a good sources for background information. You may choose to use a general encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, or a specialized encyclopedia such as International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Credo Reference Database contains hundreds encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and handbooks covering a wide range of subjects in all disciplines. Credo Reference is a great source for reliable background information on your topic. Credo is a great place to start your research as it is helpful in finding definitions, overviews, background information and basic facts for your research.

Database Names and Descriptions


Research Assistance Service

The Smith Library staff is ready to answer your questions. Our Reference Collection includes books/eBooks in all subject areas, and we can assist you in finding the right resources. We provide reference service during regular business hours, and questions are taken over the phone (770) 484-1204 (ext.5756). If you are unable to contact us during regular business hours, you may submit your question by email (  The Library will typically respond to e-mail requests within twenty-four weekday hours, but response time may vary, depending on the nature of your question.


Smith Library

3038 Evans Mill Rd.

Lithonia, GA 30038

770-484-1204 (ext.5756)

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