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Why Background Research?
Get off to a good start on your research by doing background research to identify the “who, what, when, why, where” information on your topic.
If you're having trouble focusing your topic, background research is a great way to see how other researchers and writers are approaching the subject. Background research sources can begin to answer some of your research questions, and give you ideas of new questions to ask.
- Is a great source of core knowledge on your topic
- Can generate ideas on different ways to focus your topic
- Can answer research questions you've already posed
- May help you clarify and/or expand research questions
- Often points you towards other sources of information on your topic (bibliographies)
Sources for Background Research @ WCC
Do some background research on any topic that you are interested in using encyclopedias and websites. These will provide you with an overview of your topic, so that you gain a better understanding and can see what issues are related to it.
Background research can also help you decide what way to focus your topic. For example, you might be interested in the subject of social media. If you look social media up in an encyclopedia it might talk about issues related to it such as privacy or bullying. You then might decide to focus on the topic of social media and privacy.
Reference books, like encyclopedias, are great resources to jump start your research. Use them when you want to read in-depth articles on a specific topic, get reliable background information, biographies, etc.
You can find subject encyclopedias for background information in the Library Catalog by searching the databases below:
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Use this collection of full-text, authoritative encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for research on a wide variety of topics
CQ Researcher Online
Overviews of topics related to health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy in America. This is the resource for finding original, comprehensive reporting and analysis on issues in the news
Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
This database is built from opinion essays published in the Opposing Viewpoints series of books, but also includes articles and other sources of information on controversial issues. Viewpoint Essays give opinions with arguments on both sides of a topic.
Full-text dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, quotations and atlases, plus a wide range of subject-specific titles.