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EN 106 Reading, Thinking, and Writing II

Why find background information?

Why find background information before you start your research?
  • Provides an overview, "big-picture" understanding of a topic.
  • Provides basic facts, figures, dates, & events related to your topic.
  • Explains issues related to your topic.
  • Summarizes your topic.
  • Identifies people who have written as experts about the topic.
  • Provides topic-specific words or terms that you can use as keywords in your database searches.
  • May provide ideas about specific aspects of your topic you will want to focus on.


Find background info using PowerSearch

PowerSearch has a feature called "Research Starter" which offers short summaries & overviews of more than 64,000 popular topics.
  • Articles are from the Salem Press Encyclopedia, Encylopedia Brittanica, and Magill Medical Guide.
  • Research Starters appear when the topic search term is broad since it is overview information. 

Step 1:  Enter search terms in PowerSearch

Step 2:  View resulting Research Starter