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Research Guides

The Research Process: A How-To Guide: 2. Find Background Information

This guide walks you through the seven steps of the research process.

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Once you have developed your topic and identified relevant keywords, you should begin your research by consulting reference resources

The most common reference resources are:

  • encyclopedias
  • dictionaries
  • handbooks
  • companions

Try keyword searches of relevant online e-reference resources, or look up your keywords in the index volumes of print encyclopedias.

Why use reference resources?

These resources will help you accomplish the following:

  • Learn the basic facts about people, places, events, and ideas related to your topic
  • Understand the broader context of your research topic
  • Identify key terms or phrases that you can search as keywords in the library catalog and journal databases
  • Discover the names of books and articles worth looking for, by consulting the bibliographies at the end of reference articles

Where to begin

To begin, search our E-Reference guide to access reference sources within your topic area.