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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

TRAC Seminar: Finding Background Resources

Fall 2017, Greg Skutches

Sources of Background Information

Background information can be found in:

  • textbooks
  • dictionaries
  • general encyclopedias
  • subject-specific encyclopedias 

Why use background information? Background research:

  • Provides a good overview of the topic if you are unfamiliar with it.
    (example: a student doing a market research report on a company using a business research database to lookup information on a particular basis)
  • Helps identify important facts -- terminology, dates, events, history, organizations, etc 
    (example: a student writing a literary analysis paper using a dictionary of literary terms)
  • Can help guide your thinking on a topic by providing a foundation. 
    (example: a student completing a mock policy brief on fracking in Pennsylvania consulting a dictionary of environment and conservation)
  • Leads to bibliographies which provide additional sources of information.
    (example: a student writing a literature review on clinical treatment of postpartum depression researching the history of postpartum depression in a psychology encyclopedia)


Finding Background Information