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COMP 100 (Peters): How to Start

Librarian: Heather Stalter (nee Beach)

Gathering Background Information

When you begin a research project, it is a good idea to take a moment to reflect on your prior knowledge of the topic area. How much do you already know about this topic?  How confident are you in moving forward with this topic? 

In most cases, you will need to do a bit of research to get some general information on your topic.  To truly learn a new concept or skill, you need to create a solid base or foundation. 

Gathering background information on your topic is a great way to start any research assignment.  By looking through encyclopedias, handbooks, and other reference materials, you can usually find the following information very quickly:

  • Brief overview of your topic
  • Key concepts, people, dates, and events
  • Lists of sources for further reading and bibliographies that may lead you to additional sources

A great way to create this base is by conducting research in encyclopedias or other reference sources, including the reference databases listed below. 

Reference Databases

Additional Databases that cover issues (including environmental and controversial), provide summaries, etc.

These databases can provide nice summaries of topics, and include coverage of environmental topics as well as anything controversial.

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