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University Library DePaul Library

Step 2: Get Background Information

Now that you've chosen a topic and developed a research question, get background information which will help you in subsequent steps.  Background sources, also known as reference sources, include dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks.  Try these collections of background sources to gather authoritative information about your topic.

Why Use Background Sources?

Background sources will help you:    

  • Learn important dates and events around your topic
  • Browse a chronology or timeline for your topic
  • Discover what scholars are talking about when they talk about your topic
  • Find out who the experts are: who researches and writes about your topic
  • Explore keywords and subject-specific vocabulary that can be used for database searches
  • Find bibliographies that lead to additional resources