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Research Basics
Finding Background Information

Purpose of Background Research

Research

 

 

 

 

 

Finding background information on your topic can also help you to refine y our topic. Background research serves many purposes.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic: terminology, dates, events, history, and names or organizations.
  • It can help you to refine your topic.
  • Background research might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information on your topic.

Sources of Background Information

Reference sources like the ones listed below can help you find an angle on your topic and identify an interesting research question. If you are focusing on a particular academic discipline, you might do background reading in subject-specific encyclopedias  and reference sources.Background information can also be found in:

  • textbooks
  • dictionaries
  • general encyclopedias
  • subject-specific encyclopedias  
  • article databases

These sources are often listed in our LibraryResearch Guides

Here are some resources you may find helpful in finding a strong topic:

Tip!

If you can't find an encyclopedia, dictionary or textbook article on your topic, try using broader keywords or ask a librarian for help.

For example, if your topic is Global Warming, consider searching for an encyclopedia on the environment.

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