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Choosing and Refining Your Research Topic Workshop: Background Reading

Background Reading to Get Started on Your Research

Getting familiar with a topic with some background reading takes some time and it is research.  It is helpful to do this before you start writing, whether or not you have your research topic fully defined or not.  If you still need to figure out exactly what your research topic is, it is extremely helpful to do this!

You can use the library's books (and eBooks) and article databases to learn more about your topic.   

  • To find books and e-books, use the library's catalog;
    • click Books & eBooks on the library's homepage for the catalog.
    • The library's catalog will also find articles for you.  Try the Find Books & eBooks Fast workshop for more information on using the catalog. 
  • The databases are listed in the A-Z Databases list;

Here are two types of easy-to-use tools the library has for you that can help explore your topic area.  These can all be found on the A-Z Databases list.

Virtual Referece Library

Reference material, such as encyclopedias, can be a great starting point to understanding a topic.  Encyclopedias might not be appropriate to use in your paper as a citation, but they are wonderful for getting you up to speed on a topic and guiding you to sources you can use.

Gale eBooks (Gale Virtual Reference Libary) Tutorials

Need Some Help?

If you have questions about how to use these library tools or need some more help, reach out to a librarian!  We are available at the Reference Desk or remotely through the slide-out box or via chat during library hours!

Part of the academic process is sharing what you have learned.  Good luck with your research and your paper or presentation!  

Two Social Issues/Controversial Topics Databases

These databases can be easier to use because they curate information on common topics.  When searching your topic, the bolded suggestions are curated topics.  Click on these or navigate the topic tiles for the good stuff!

Opposing Viewpoints Tutorials

SIRS Issues Researcher Tutorials