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University Library

Film Studies

Resources for research in film studies

What is background information?

When you're exploring a topic that is new to you, it's important to know some basic, factual information about that topic. Certain sources like encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and almanacs can give you the foundation you need before you're ready to dig deeper into your question. 

What differentiates encyclopedia and other reference sources from other kinds of books is the kind of information they contain. Encyclopedias contain basic facts, like when a film was made, where a director was born, who starred in a movie, or how a particular effect was created. They don't contain analysis or explore new ideas.

Encyclopedias and other sources of factual information don't usually need to be cited in your paper, because the information you learn from them is considered "common knowledge," facts that are widely known. 

Specialized Encyclopedias

You may be surprised to learn that there are encyclopedias that cover almost any specialized topic you can imagine. If you're writing about Hindi cinema, or specific directors, or films from a particular time period, there's a good bet that there's a reference source dedicated to that subject. Here are a few specialized sources we have. Explore the library catalog to see if we have sources on your topic!

Online Encyclopedias

Most reference sources now are available online. The library subscribes to several online reference sources that are great options to search for background information.