Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Get started with research

Learn how to use the library resources to get started with your research.

Do background research

Searching for background information helps you to get an overview and determine questions or perspectives about your topic.
 

Google can be a good place to get grounded, as you will find news articles, top hits, and Wikipedia entries, all of which can provide a good overview of your topic. Visit the subtopics under "Do background research" in this guide for specific tips on using Google and Wikipedia for preliminary searching.

Depending on your topic, you will likely have to look in a variety of places to find what you need. It is unrealistic to only use simple Google searches for your work as it will not provide you with everything you need to support your academic papers. 

Information comes in a variety of packages, including:

  • books
  • journal articles
  • conference proceedings
  • government documents
  • policy briefs
  • reports
  • white papers
  • laws and legislation
  • statistics and data
  • newspapers
  • blogs
  • video sharing sites (e.g. YouTube)

Scholarly books, journal articles and conference proceedings are typically the most valued types of academic publishing. Academics and students alike are usually required to cite these kinds of sources when writing academic papers. Depending on your topic, though, other document types can be useful as well. Grey literature, for example, written by subject experts and published by governments or research groups, can be very relevant and reliable. Trade journals, written for practitioners rather than scholars, offer a perspective not included in scholarly literature.