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GEL 111: Introduction to Geology

This Research Guide provides information about geology and natural science resources found in the CCCC libraries and online.

A note on background Information

Why should you search for background information?

Basic facts: The articles you read and cite in your paper will assume you already know the basic facts about your topic.  These are the people, dates, places, and laws related to it.  You need to know these facts before you read academic articles to ensure you know what the writers are talking about!

Vocabulary: Academic writing may use words and terms for a topic that are different from those we use every day.  By researching the background of a topic, you'll learn which terms academic writers use to discuss your topic.

Narrowing you topic: Most students start off with a topic that's too big to cover in a five page paper.  By doing thorough background research, you can identify sub-topics that might be easier to work with.

The following Library Resources will help you find Background Information: 

Library Lingo

Reference Source: A broad resource for basic facts and background.  They offer a good entry point to the basic information you will need to learn as you start to explore your topic.

Reference sources include, but are not limited to, Biographies, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Atlases, and Handbooks.

Geology Websites

Learn more about your topic from one of these Websites

Who What When Where

The 4 Ws

Guide yourself through your Background Research by answering the following four questions:


Who are the people or groups relevant to your topic?  

Example:  If you're writing about plate tectonics, this might include Alfred Wegener, or Harry Hammond West.


What are the major events, laws, controversies, or issues related to your topic?

Example:  If you're researching petroleum, this might include Carbon EmissionsArctic Drilling, or  alternative fuel sources.


When have major events happened to affect your topic? This can include dates, date ranges, or eras relevant to your topic.

Example:  If you're learning about climate change, this might include 1896, the1980s, or the ice age.



Where are the places most affected by your topic? Which countries, regions, or states?  

Example:  If you're researching volcanoes, this might include Japan, Hawaii, or the Pacific North West.


If you need some help getting started...


Need a little extra help?

Contact your librarian. 

Or use the links below to get more in-depth help and information.