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ANTH 3341 Anthropology Research Methods: Background Information

What is background information?

Background information provides a general overview of and context for a research topic, event, or policy. It is a great place to find important vocabulary and concepts, relevant names of people or places, and dates of specific events. Data and statistics are also considered background information and can help determine things like prevalence. What these have in common is that they give you the big picture before you start digging into the scholarly research.

These resources are especially helpful during the idea generation stage. Finding good background information on a general topic can help you turn that topic into a research question.

They will also help you determine what vocabulary and background concepts you will need to identify relevant peer-reviewed sources in the databases and identify more specific areas of your topic that you may want to research further.

Encyclopedias & Reference Sources

Finding Books

To locate books, use the library catalog and conduct an Advanced Search. Add other search terms in the additional search boxes that relate to your topic. Examples might include:

  • anthro*
  • ethno*
  • culture
  • history

You may wish to use even narrower terms, such as a particular culture or language.

Note: In many search bars, using an asterisk (*) serves as a truncation. This means that shortening the term and adding the asterisk tells the search engine than you want to find all of the various endings for the truncated term.

AV Sources