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GNDS 360: Masculinities, Cross Cultural Perspectives

Background Information

Why is background information important in your research process?

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 specialized reference work can provide include:

  1. Broad overview of the subject
  2. Definitions of the topic 
  3. Introduction to key concepts, which will help you narrow and focus your topic
  4. Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
  5. Major dates and events
  6. Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms, which will help with database searching 
  7. Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

How to find background information

Conducting a search on the Omni search tool is a great place to find background information. Use keywords of your topic combined with the type of reference work which you would like to locate, such as encyclopedia, dictionary companion, bibliography, or handbook. 

Example search on the library catalogue:

  • "men's studies" AND encyclopedia
  • masculinities AND handbook
Omni Tip: To filter your search to background sources, select Reference Entries under the Resource Type filter, located on the left side of your search results after putting in your keyword (rather than adding the reference work in the search entry like the above example). 


Reference Platforms

The following reference platforms are excellent places to start your background information

Oxford Reference Online

Sage Reference Online