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Cultural Studies

A selective guide to resources in Cultural Studies at Queen's University Library

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. You can 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:

  • "critical theory" AND dictionary
  • "critical theory" AND encyclopedia
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. 


View the Finding Background Information section in the Humanities and Social Sciences guide for more details and suggestions. 

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Search any topic across the whole range of Oxford and Sage online reference books

Oxford Reference Online

Sage Reference Online