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Presearch is the informal searching you might do on a topic before you start your deeper, more focused research. When you're doing your presearch you're finding background information on your topic and creating context for your topic and how you might want to approach it.
You can use ANY kind of presearch resources you want, including Wikipedia, as long as you keep in mind that presearch is informal and some of the resources that you use to educate yourself about your topic are not necessarily appropriate for a college-level paper.
Some other good places to start your presearch are Google, GoogleNews, and some of the library's "Getting Started" databases (encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference sources).
Wikipedia as a PreSearch Tool
It's perfectly okay to look at a Wikipedia page to learn more about your topic when you're doing presearch, but you would not want to use this as a formal resource for your paper. What you can do is use Wikipedia's links and references to locate more authoritative and credible sources. In many cases you can find more authoritative resources, such as books and published articles from these references.
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"Getting Started" Databases
These are the databases librarians recommend for wrapping your head around a topic, to narrow down into something "researchable", and to develop your keywords for actual researching.
CQ Researcher provides in-depth coverage of important issues, written by experienced journalists, footnoted and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, and resources for additional research.
A great place to begin your research process: to narrow your topic, get background information and to gather keywords. Encyclopedias and reference books are not generally used as cited sources in college-level research papers (usually you'll need to take what you find in an encyclopedia and head out to the databases for more advanced sources).
Subject coverage includes: art, biography, business, education, environment, history, information and publishing, law, literature, medicine, multicultural studies, nation and world, religion, science, social science, and technology.
Points of View is a full text database providing access to information & opinions on controversial and current topics. It includes topic overviews, viewpoint and counterpoint articles, and critical analysis guides.