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SPAN 438 Research Guide: Finding Background Information
Background information can be found in reference books like those provided in links on this page. It's always a good idea to learn about your topic before you proceed to narrowing it. Doing background research seems like more work, but it actually provides you with important information that makes the rest of your research project more efficient. When you do background research in reference books you can find the following kinds of information:
a concise history and general orientation to your subject
a discussion of the issues and/or research being done on your subject
a mention of the key players or researchers dealing with your topic
an introduction to the vocabulary (jargon) of your topic
definitions of terms important to your topic
If you "front-load" your research, you'll actually save yourself time by orienting yourself to your subject and discovering possible paper topics in the reference works you consult.
Fully indexed, cross-searchable database of about 100 dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press. Includes subject reference works in the humanities, social sciences, and science.
Oxford University Press offers many of its fine reference works online.