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LIBS 302 Intro to Liberal Studies

This guide will help you define your research topic and identify resources

What is Background Information?

Often when we start a research project, we begin by filling in the gaps in our basic knowledge, providing a foundation of knowledge from which we can begin to answer our question. Background information helps you make sure you have your facts right about your topic, and that the assumptions on which you base your question are backed up by evidence. 

For example, using our climate change denial example from "Getting started," we have to find evidence that climate change denial exists, and that there is scientific research showing climate change itself exists. There are many ways we might go about this. I like to start doing some basic research on my topic in general, just to see what's out there, and what the scholarly conversation already is around my topic. 

Books and encyclopedias are great sources for finding background information, and beginning to inform your research. The following links will help you find books and basic articles about your topic. 

Subject Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Great for overviews and background information written by scholars.

Books, films, etc.

Use OneSearch to find books, films, and other media available in the library. Books are a great place to start building a foundation for research. You may want to start with a simple keyword search for your general topic. Take the time to browse the results, looking at individual records, to get a sense for what is available. 


Search OneSearch for books, media, articles, primary sources, newspapers, journals, and more. Selecting CSU+ will allow you to search across all CSU libraries and request items we don't have.

Evaluating Wikipedia Articles

In a nutshell: "You should not use Wikipedia by itself for primary research (unless you are writing a paper about Wikipedia)."--from Wikipedia article: Researching with Wikipedia