Do you have an idea for a topic but want to learn more first? 

Background research helps you develop a more effective topic as well as brainstorm for better search terms or keywords.

  • Your instructor is a great resource! They understand your assignment and can provide great advice about the topic and how to frame it. 
  • Talk to a librarian. We're available at the Research Help Desk on the first floor of the library and via 24/7 chat and email.
  • Start with books. Do a search on the library website on a broad topic and find a book or ebook that interests you. Books are a great source of background information and are not as narrowly focused as articles. 
  • Check the library Research Guides for resources you can explore in specific disciplines. 

 Here are some resources for exploring background information on potential topics:

  • Reference books-the area near the Discover-e and Printing Assistance desks has all of the library's reference collection. Here you'll find print dictionaries, encyclopedies, and information on just about any topic.  
  • Reference databases such as Gale Virtual Reference Library and Oxford Reference Online. These are digital versions of the print encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc... that you might find in our reference collection. Here's a list of all the reference databases that the library subscribes to. 
  • The Opposing Viewpoints and CQ Researcher databases can also be good for background information on controversial topics.