IV. Get Background Information after you choose your topic and develop your research question. Background sources can provide: a chronology or timeline for your topic, information about dates and events that are contemporaneous with your topic, scholarly opinions on your topic, keywords and subject-specific vocabulary for database searching, current thought on your topic, and other resources.

Background information can be found in textbooks, dictionaries, general and subject-specific encyclopedias to name a few and can give you ....
  • A broad overview of the subject
  • Definitions of the topic
  • An introduction to key issues
  • Names of people who are authorities in the field
  • Major dates and events
  • Lead to bibliographies which provide additional sources of information.

Some good online sources for background information are:

  • Gale eBooks provides access to encyclopedias and reference sources within the Gale eBooks platform. Title List
  • eBook Academic Collection contains a growing collection of over 160,000 multidisciplinary eBook titles from a wide variety of subject areas, including Art, History, Mathematics, Psychology, Philosophy, and Business.
  • eBook Collection contains a large selection of multidisciplinary eBook titles representing a broad range of academic subject matter, and is a strong complement for any academic collection. The breadth of information available through this package ensures that users will have access to information relevant to their research needs.
  • eBook Central Collection provides access to authoritative eBooks from the world’s top publishers on a range of subjects: arts, business management, education, general knowledge, health & medicine, history & political science, law, literature & language, religion & philosophy, science & technology, and social science.

Databases A to Z

Background Information for Academic Research Papers

by the Library at Sacred Heart University