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World and United States History

What is a Background Source?

A background source provides context information concisely and thoroughly to help you "get the gist" before looking at more specific information types, like journal articles.  Context information for History 2010 can include:

  • lists of key information sources to consult on your topic
  • historical timelines and explanations of events
  • biographical information

Consult background sources at the beginning of your research process:

  • to start developing a thorough and critical understanding of a topic or concept
  • to find keywords to use for searching online library databases and library catalogs for articles and books on your topic
  • to refine your research topic into a research question
  • to find another angle on a topic, idea, or argument when you get stuck
  • to find authoritative information you can quote

Sources for Background Information