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How to Write a Research Paper: Finding Background Information

General steps to create a research paper.

Goals of Locating Background Information

  • Refer to the Research Methods Research Guide to help you get started.
  • Get a broad overview of the subject or topic.
  • Use both general and subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries (can be in print or electronic - through the library)
  • Get more focused, in-depth, or historical background on the topic.
  • Use books written in the time period and follow up with more recent information.
  • Reference material will provide an overview, define terminology, and provide additional resources for the research paper.

Hint: create the References or Works Cited pages as you gather your resources. This will save you time and effort because you will not have to search for the material again and you will have this part done as you work on the paper.

Hint 2: annotate the reference list so you know why you printed out or copied that source, or mark the printout or copy somewhere where you can find it easily, for example, on the upper right corner of the first page.

--Modified from Jeff Simpson, Troy University Library

Another great way to keep track of online sources is to use the permalinks in EBSCO or Share Link option in some other databases.  This gives you a stable link back to that article or ebook.

Here is assistance in creating an annotated bibliography.

Excellent background is available in hard copy reference books, but also in the following Reference Databases:

Remote Access to the Databases

The databases listed in this Research Guide are available only to Truckee Meadows Community College students, faculty and staff. You will need your TMCC credentials (Username and Password) to access them off-campus.

Looking for Background Information