Finding Background Information

Once you have identified the main topic and keywords for your research, find one or more sources of background information to read. These sources will help you understand the broader context of your research and tell you in general terms what is known about your topic. They can give you an idea of how much and what kind of information is available on a given topic.

Encyclopedias and dictionaries: You can find subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries by using the library catalog or by asking a reference librarian.

Cull from bibliographies: Often there are scholarly articles that give an overview of research in specific fields. The sources cited in the bibliography are good starting points for further research.

Reference Sources for Finding Background Information on your Topics

Use these reference databases to find and access articles in a variety of encyclopedias and subject dictionaries:

Gale Virtual Reference Library

A database of full text reference encylopedias and dictionaries for the Arts, Business, History, Law, Medicine, Religion, and Social Sciences.

Oxford Art Online

Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists and other Oxford art reference resources. You may have access to Grove, Benezit, or both; your list of sources and search results automatically reflect your settings.

Oxford Reference Online

A core foundation of 135+ academic subject, language, and quotations dictionaries providing carefully vetted, trusted and short entries.