Before beginning more in-depth research, it's often helpful to get an overview of your topic through background research. This is sometimes called "pre-research" or "presearch" because it is the research that comes before the research you do for your actual paper or project. This can help you develop a more effective research question and brainstorm better search terms.
Here are some tips to help you presearch:
- Your instructor understands your assignment and can provide advice about the topic and how to frame it.
- Ask a Librarian! We're available in person, via virtual chat, email, and phone.
- Credo Reference has a brief video explaining how presearch can help you better understand your topic (if you are off campus, you'll need to log in to view the video)
- Resources like Wikipedia, encyclopedias, and dictionaries can provide helpful overviews of a topic and help you identify key search terms. Databases like Credo Reference can also help.
Note: Because Wikipedia is created through crowd-sourcing, evaluate Wikipedia pages by considering, for example, their references, length, and history (see the 'View history' and 'Talk' tabs).
- If there are journals related to the area you are studying and you're brainstorming possible topics, look through recent tables of contents for ideas and background information. Search the eJournals list.
- Find other background resources in our Subject Guides.