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Seven Steps - A Research Strategy: 2: Context & Background

(formerly IvyTILT)

Context and Background

Read about and study your topic!

Before you begin a search for scholarly books or articles, consider checking reference sources, like encyclopedias, to provide the background and context information to help you understand your topic.  Doing so may help you determine the:

  • SCOPE of your topic
  • IMPORTANT ISSUES related to the topic
  • TERMINOLOGY or language of the topic used by experts

Consulting reference resources about your topic helps you know what to look for when searching for articles and books in research databases.

Select the tabs below to learn more about background resources.

Best Bet: 

• Credo Reference provides articles from over 600 titles with particular emphasis on encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and reference handbooks.

• Britannica Online Academic is a complete encyclopedia with multimedia content .

CQ Researcher provides in-depth coverage of the most important issues of the day. Each article provides a wealth of information about the background, current situation, outlook, etc., of the topic.                                  

Best Bet: 
• Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context offers differing viewpoints on social issues found in magazine, newspaper, and scholarly journal articles as well as video, audio, maps, statistics, reference sources and more.



• CQ Researcher articles on hot social issues; each article includes a pro/con section where experts present their viewpoint on the issue.


Now, try these self-check questions as
an informal quiz of your understanding. 

Context and Background

Return to ENGL 111 Lumen text resource: Seven Steps - A Research Strategy

Return to ENGL 111 Lumen text resource: Table of Contents