Find the Context and Background Information
After you identify your research topic and some keywords that describe it, find and read articles in subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. These articles will help you understand the context (historical, cultural, disciplinary) of your topic. They are the foundation supporting further research. The most common background sources are subject encyclopedias and dictionaries from our print and online reference collection. Class textbooks also provide definitions of terms and background information.
Finding Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
Use our Online Encyclopedias guide to locate reliable articles on your topic.
Ask a reference librarian to suggest appropriate titles.
Browse our Subject Guides.
TIP: Exploit Bibliographies
By using this technique of routinely following up on sources cited in bibliographies, you can generate a surprisingly large number of books and articles on your topic in a relatively short time.