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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Explore Background Information

When getting started with your research, it is a good idea to get a general overview of a topic or gather background information. This information can help you decide if the topic really is in line with your thinking, and whether you want to continue researching in that subject area. Background information may include facts, historical figures, timelines, definitions, origins, theories, events, and more.

Reference resources are the most authoritative sources for locating general or background information. Reference resources are generally considered to be encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and thesauri. You may visit the Find an E-Book page to locate reference resources in the Library. Recommended databases include the following:

  • CredoReference contains hundreds of reference books on a range of academic topics.
  • Ebrary is a vast collection of full-text academic books (including reference books) from university publishers.
  • PsycBOOKS contains full-text books and chapters from American Psychological Association’s collection.
  • SAGE Knowledge is one of the top social sciences publishers of high level scholarly handbooks, major works, encyclopedias, dictionaries and journals.

It is important to keep in mind that these types of resources should be thought of as preliminary or tangential, and may not always be used as cited references in your scholarly work.

For additional information on finding background information, see the following Library FAQs: