Chemistry Resources for Undergraduates

Library Research Guide

What is Background Information?

Do you have a new science interest, lab report, or research project? In a search for background information you might find

  • keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches.
    • definitions and explanations of concepts in plain English.
    • names of people who are authorities in the subject field.
  • bibliographies that lead to additional resources.

This section will guide you on how to use some of our favorite internet resources (Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube) to start your research.

Google, Wikipedia, Google Scholar, and Library Databases

Source: GSU | Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL)


Start your background search using these:

Google Web Search
Google Scholar Search


YouTube is an excellent place to get to know a research topic (i.e. find background information). You might find interviews with scientists, researchers, and stakeholders or videos explaining processes and approaches to solutions related to your question.

Tips for Searching YouTube:

  1. Search with the same keywords as as you would in Google or a database.
    • Find the experts (organization, research institute, or people) on Google or Wikipedia.
    • Search their names on YouTube - they may be publishing videos about their work.
  2. If you find one relevant video on YouTube, click the publisher's link under the video to see if they have more. On each publisher's YouTube home page you will find a menu above the video listing:
    • Videos - videos by this publisher;
    • Playlists - videos by this publisher grouped by themes selected by the publisher;
    • Channels - video collections curated by this publisher;
    • Discussion - some publishers allow general comments or host discussions on their pages;
  3. About - information sometimes provided by the publisher (you might find a link to their website or social media feeds). This is a good place to look when evaluating a resource.

screenshot of YouTube publisher page highlighting channel navigation menu and related titles list

  1. From the publisher's page YouTube also recommends Related channels (to the right of the video, pictured above).
  2. As with a Wikipedia article, you will need the source behind the video so check out the credits, information below the video, and comments for references.
    • If you can't find a reference for information in the video:
      • see if you can find it by searching Google;
      • post a comment (other viewers might know more);
      • contact the publisher.

Depending on the product and audience of your research, a YouTube video might be a legitimate resource. Don't forget to cite it! Open the APA or MLA citation styles link and search for YouTube using ctrl f (command f on a Mac).