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English 1013 - Composition I: Explain a Concept

How to Explain a Concept

Concepts can include theories, ideas, principles, conditions, phenomena, or processes.  You may need to find multiple types of information resources, including definitions, historical information, key figures, and examples.  Use the resources below to help you find basic background information about a concept.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Resources like "Encyclopedias" and "Dictionaries" give simple definitions of terms and provide short overviews of different topics and concepts.  They are a great source of information to get started on understanding your concept.

Gale In Context Databases

If you don't know much about your topic, try these topic-focused databases about history, environmental science, controversial issues, and more.  Depending on your topic, these databases can provide the essential overview information to help define essential terms, provide historical context, examples, and more from reliable, academic sources.  Look at topic pages for "Overview" information or check out the "References" section.

Search Tips

You can find background information in many library databases.  Try using these tips to help narrow search results to broader overviews of your topic:

  • Search for names, phrases, or synonyms of your topic.  
  • Use limiters like "Subject" to focus only on articles about the term or set of terms for which you are search.
  • Use quotation marks to group multiple terms together to search as a phrase (e.g. "Gender Inequality" vs. Gender Inequality).
  • Use the word "Overview" or "Definition" or "Introduction" with your search terms.
  • Locate the word "Reference" in resource filters.