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HDCS 1300 - Human Ecosystems and Technological Change

Learn to research human and consumer needs and values.

What is Background Information?

icon of magnifying lens examining the earth

Background information can help you learn more about your topic and develop your research question. Common examples of background information sources are dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographies. You may find these sources as individual books or ebooks by searching our library catalog, or through a library database. You can also find background information on websites and in newspapers or magazines.

Background information can help you by

  • introducing you to important terms, concepts, peoples, events, or theories related to your topic
  • pointing you toward other works on your research topic,

Try to look for background information early in your research process. That way, you can use what you learn to make improvements to your research topic or question and search for relevant academic research.

How do I find background information?

Background information sources may contain information on many topics from multiple disciplines. You're probably already familiar with one source for general background information, Wikipedia.

To find this type of background information through UH Libraries, try searching one of the databases below with keywords related to your research topic.

Some background information sources are less general and instead cover concepts and ideas related to a specific topic. In the social sciences, these are often sources such as "handbooks."

To look for books or ebooks of background information on your topic, try searching keywords associated with your research topic in the library's catalog, specifying the search term as a subject, rather than title. You can also search for the word "handbook" and your topic area, broadly. For example, searching for "handbook and consumer science" in the catalog will lead you to the Handbook of Developments in Consumer Behavior.