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English 151

Using Background Information for Research

If you are writing a paper for class, you may need some basic facts about a topic in order to get started. It can be hard to know how to critically analyze a topic without knowing some background facts about your topic such as: definitions of terms, names of famous people involved in the issue, a chronology of major dates, and a general background history of what you're researching. These facts can be used in your introduction as grounding concepts, or these facts can simply ground you in your topic before you get started. We have excellent databases that can give you background information. These same databases can be used to browse for topics if you're unsure of what to write about.

Using CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher provides full text reports written by seasoned journalists about current social, political, and economic issues. Includes topics in health, education, international affairs, public policy, the environment, technology, and the economy.

Each report includes a concise overview of an issue, historical background, opposing arguments, statistics and polls, and suggestions for further reading.

This is a great place to begin research on current affairs issues. Using the browse function, you can also look for topics to write about.

Gale EBooks (formerly Virtual Reference Library)

This is a digital reference collection containing over 400 full text encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, and specialized reference books. Reference works provide basic, background information on a topic (think wikipedia) and can be searched by name of person, name of event, or topic by keyword. These articles (otherwise known as reference entries) can be cited in your work by using the citation the database provides.