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Purpose of Background Research
Once you have identified some keywords, the next step is to find background information on your topic. Background research:
- Provides a good overview of the topic if you are unfamiliar with it.
- Helps identify important facts -- terminology, dates, events, history, organizations, etc.
- Can help refine your topic.
- Leads to bibliographies which provide additional sources of information.
Sources of Background Information
Background information can be found in:
- general encyclopedias
- subject-specific encyclopedias
- article databases
These sources are often listed on the Books & E-Books tab of our subject guides.
Databases for Background Research
Britannica Online This includes Britannica Encyclopaedia online, as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the Britannica Book of the year. It can also be used to search an Internet directory that includes more than 130,000 links to Web sites selected, rated, and reviewed by Britannica editors. This database contains many images and some other types of multimedia.
CQ Researcher This weekly publication provides in-depth, non-biased analysis of the most current major and controversial issues of the day, from 1991 to the present, with complete summaries, pros and cons, bibliographies and more.
Oxford Reference Books A collection of reference books from Oxford publishing.
Gale Virtual Reference Library This site provides electronic full-text copies of several multi-volume reference and scholarly books. Titles cover history, business, literature and more.