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GPS: Livable Cities

Background Research

Finding background information on your topic is always the recommended starting point, especially if you are unfamiliar with the topic or not sure what angle or perspective you are going to take.

Some of the information that you might want to try to find as part of a background search includes:

  • Broad overview of the topic, including important dates and events 
  • Identifying and defining technical terms and discipline-specific jargon. NOTE: these terms that can then be used as search terms!
  • Introduction to current key issues/debates as well as their historical context
  • Names of people who are authorities/experts/leaders in a given field or research area
  • Bibliographies and citation lists that could lead to additional research resources

The goal of conducting background research is to understand the historical, cultural, and disciplinary context of your topic. 

There are a variety of resources that can provide background information, including reference materials, such as subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries. Books are also a great place to gain a broad overview of a topic, as well as historical context.