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Find Background Information

When you start a research project, you need to understand the background of an issue.

  • What is the historical context?
  • What terminology (vocabulary) do others use when writing about this topic?

You can start off by Googling your topic to find Wikipedia and websites from organizations such as think tanks, universities, nonprofits and government agencies. These credible sources will not show in a search of library resources. However, you may have to sift through a lot of other less credible results including commercial sites.


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Remember to treat Wikipedia as a search engine like Google, not as a definitive source.

Although it is much more reliable than in the past, it is not a good source by itself. Check citations and external sources at the end of the Wikipedia entry.

Keep going. Now that you have general information, it's time for more specialized online library resources

CREDO Reference, for example, is an academic version of Wikipedia. It has verified information from published reference books and gives you ready-made citations.

More Background Information Sources

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