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Research Process: Step 2: Background Info

How to write a paper at the Davis Library and University of Rio Grande & Rio Grande Community College

Read General Background Information

Read a general encyclopedia article on the top two or three topics you are considering.

Reading a broad summary enables you to get an overview of the topic and see how your idea relates to broader, narrower, and related issues. It also provides a great source for finding words commonly used to describe the topic. These keywords may be very useful to your later research.

If you can't find an article on your topic, try using broader terms and ask for help from a librarian.

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:

  • Textbooks
  • Dictionaries
  • General Encyclopedias
  • Subject-Specific Encyclopedias  
  • Articles in Periodicals

These and other sources are often listed on our LibGuides.