Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

History of Science and Technology: A Research Guide: HPSS - Background Information

HPS studies the intertwining of humanistic scholarly approaches to investigating science and technology.

Why reference books?

Use reference materials to find background information.  Reference books can help you:

  • Explore a topic: find out what has been said about this subject, trends, issues, etc.
  • Identify and define unfamiliar terms or people in your reading
  • Find references to other books and articles on the subject
  • Find specific keywords to use in online searches
  • Build your foundational knowledge so you can more easily learn complex information.

Need some more background information about that new concept you learned in class today?  Writing a paper on a topic that's new to you?  Not sure what topic to choose for your paper?  Answer yes to any of these questions, and a subject-specific encyclopedia is the thing for you.

Library encyclopedias and handbooks aren't searchable or freely available on the web, but you can still access many of them online by logging in with your MSU ID...and feel confident using them as a bona-fide scholarly resource that is written by an expert in the field and reviewed for accuracy!

Wikipedia is a common starting point for many people researching a new topic, but unlike scholarly subject-specific encyclopedias, most professors will not allow you to cite Wikipedia in your bibliography.  View this video tutorial, Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface, from North Carolina State University Libraries for more information about how Wikipedia works and its information quality.

General Science Resouces


Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Suzanne Teghtmeyer
Main Library
366 W. Circle Dr.
East Lansing, MI 48824

Orcid ID

Librarian Recommendations