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Monmouth College Hewes Library

1d. Find Background Information

Purpose of Background Research

Once you have identified some key terminology on your topic, the next step is to find background information on your topic. Background research serves many purposes.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic -- terminology, dates, events, history, and names or organizations.
  • It can help you to refine your topic.
  • Background research might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information on your topic.
  • Background information can be found in textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias (both general and subject-specific), and journal articles.

TIP: If you can't find an encyclopedia, dictionary or textbook article on your topic, try using broader keywords or ask a librarian for help.

  • For example, if your topic is Global Warming, consider searching for an encyclopedia on the environment.
  • See the list of call numbers below. This is how the books are organized in Hewes Library. Choose several subjects relating to your topic and BROWSE the area of the Reference Collection in those areas. The Reference Collection is located on the main floor, east side.

Browse the Shelves by Call Number (How the Library is Organized)

A General works   PB-PH Modern European Languages
B-BJ Philosophy, Psychology   PG Russian Literature
BL-BX Religion   PJ-PM Languages and Lit of Asia, Africa
C Auxiliary Sciences of History   PN, PR, PS, PZ General Literature
D History: General and Old World     English and American Literature
E-F History: America   PQ, part 1 French Literature
G Geography, Anthropology   PQ, part 2 Italian, Spanish, Portuguese Lit
H Social Science   PT, part 1 German Literature
J Political Science   PT, part 2 Dutch and Scandinavian Lit
KD Law of the United Kingdom/Ireland   Q Science
KF Law of the United States   R Medicine
L Education   S Agriculture
M Music   T Technology
N Fine Arts   U Military Science
P-PA General Philology and Linguistics   V Naval Science
  Classical Languages and Lit   Z Bibliography, Library Science

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Questions? Contact Hewes Library

general contact 309-457-2190 Email a librarian: Call a librarian: 309-457-2301
Hewes Library at Monmouth College | 700 East Broadway, Monmouth, IL 61462 | Phone: 309-457-2190 | Fax: 309-457-2226 | |