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Cultural Studies

The Importance of Background Information

Finding background information at the beginning of your research is especially important if you are unfamiliar with the subject area, or not sure from what angle to approach your topic. The types of information that a background search in a specialzed reference work can provide include:

  • Broad overview of the subject
  • Definitions of the topic
  • Introduction to key concepts/issues
  • Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
  • Major dates and events
  • Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches
  • Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

In addition to the sources listed here, you can also search QCAT using the keywords of your topic combined with the type of reference work you would like to locate (for example: encyclopedia, dictionaries, companion, bibliography, or handbook).

Reference Platforms

In addition to searching your topic in specific reference works, you can also search across the following publisher platforms, which is particularly useful for interdisciplinary topics: 

Blackwell Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online

Sage Reference Online