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How Do I Start My Research?

Background Information & Books

Before you can start any research on your topic, you must have a background knowledge about the topic.

Books and websites can provide you with that knowledge.

This is important because:

  1. Background sources give you the language that people are using to discuss your topic. You will use this language when you start to search databases.
  2. You will use the "language" used to discuss the topic to create your keywords for the databases.
  3. This "pre-research" gives you a sense if your topic is focused enough. If your initial searches bring back so many results you can't even figure out what the language is, then you should consider narrowing your topic.

Remember, background information is always a starting point for research, not an ending point.


Recommended databases to start exploring your topic:

Why Brainstorming is a Necessary Step

This short video from Portland State University Library reminds us that library databases work differently from Google.

Though both use keyword searching, you can use library databases more effectively and successfully if you have thought of lots of keywords related to your research topic.