You may be somewhat familiar with some of what you will be writing about or researching, but in today's information rich world it is impossible to know something about everything. For purposes of academic writing (and your own personal knowledge), it will be necessary to explore topics on a deeper level. Your own knowledge may be helpful, but you will need more than that to successfully (an A paper) complete your research paper, capstone, or class presentation.
After you have identified your topic and developed your topic (haven't done this yet? Click here for helpful advice) you will need to get background information about your topic. Once you have identified the main topic and keywords for your research, find one or more sources of background information to read. These sources will help you understand the broader context of your research and tell you in general terms what is known about your topic. The most common background sources are encyclopedias and dictionaries from the print and online reference collection. Class textbooks also provide background information. [Olin and Uris Libraries, Cornell University]
You can find some suggested general information sources for each subject by clicking on one of the following links: