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Beginning Steps to Research: Find background information

Suggested steps for researching a subject or topic.


A specialized reference source provides:

  • an overview of the topic

  • ideas for searchable keywords

  • lists of other sources from bibliographies that are often included with the entries

Gather background info

  1. Read background information on your subject.

  2. Compile lists of keywords or subject terms.

  3. Search the Online Catalog for library materials with the subjects or keywords you have identified.

  4. Are there experts who have researched your topic? Identify them and list.

  5. Search your topic in relevant online library research databases.

  6. Skim through the literature you have looked at. Which sources are most useful?

Specialized resources

The library subscribes to online research databases with some providing a wide assortment of reference titles, like Credo Reference, with over 1200 titles.

Identify Experts

As you read through your literature you should see references to researchers or scholars on your topic. Write down their names. You may want to search them by subject and author when using the Online Catalog or online research databases.


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Diane Baker
William Hessel Library
Lake Michigan College
2755 East Napier Avenue
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Subjects: Library Research