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Research Methods: Finding Background Information

Basic Approach to a Research Project

Background Information

The Plan

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.

--Modified from Jeff Simpson, Troy University Library

Keep Track of Where You are and What You Have Found

  • 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.

Here is assistance in creating an annotated bibliography.