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Assignment | Bill Tracking Project (Ross): Background Information

Spring 2019 | GOVT 2306 | Professor Ross

Research Process

     Start your research with background or overview articles on your topic. Get familiar with your topic so that you can start to narrow it down. General information will help you develop context for your topic as well as get to know the specialized terms by experts.


Step 1: Background Information. After you identify your research topic and some keywords that describe it, find and read articles in subject encyclopedias (not Wikipedia). Credo Reference (see link under Find Information tab) contains items that will help you understand the context (historical, cultural, disciplinary) of your topic. Background information is the foundation supporting further research. Class textbooks also provide definitions of terms and background information.

Step 2: Dig Deeper. Exploit the citations within background information articles to dig deeper into your subject. Bring the keywords to Academic Search Complete or JSTOR databases to develop your research further. At this stage ask questions of the information specialists (librarians) to be sure you are in the right resource and using effective research strategies.

Step 3: Note Taking. Take good notes as you read. You will save time if you take notes that are in your own words (paraphrasing).

Step 4: Create Citation. Locate citation tools within the databases to help you create MLA citations. You may be able to copy and paste the citations into your tentative "Works Cited" page. Be sure to check the accuracy with an expert source (see Writing & Citing tab).

Background Information Sources

Background sources may be news articles or encyclopedia summaries of concepts, people or events.

Information Evaluation: Components

Critically evaluate information you find on the Internet. Consider the 5 W's:
  • Who wrote the web pages and are they an authority?
  • What is the purpose of the site. Look to the domain for a clue about purpose (.gov,.com, .edu)
  • When was the site created and updated? Current?
  • Where does the information come from? (publisher or sponsor)
  • Why is this information useful - is it relevant to my research?
Another method of evaluation is presented in the acronym: CRAAP

CRAAP test factors: Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, Purpose