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Town Hall Research Guide: Background Sources

What is background research?

Remember: Research is not about what you already know. It's the process of discovering and interpreting information from reliable sources. 

Use the sources on this page to:

  • Learn the basics about your topic
  • Choose a specific aspect of your topic to write about.
    • For example: "The long-term psychological impact on victims of human trafficking" is a better topic than "Human trafficking."

In depth reports

Search or browse for your topic. Most reports feature full bibliographies, which you can use as additional sources, as well as relevant organizations.

Find a Book

The library has books on your topic. Search by keyword, then filter your search results by Format (book) and Year.

Online encyclopedias & dictionaries

These are collections of online encyclopedias and reference books. Use these for general information on your topic. 

Charts & Infographics

Let's talk about Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a great first step in research: it tells you what things are.

Anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, so it's not as reliable as other encyclopedias, which are edited by experts. Use Wikipedia to narrow your topic and learn the basics, but find a more trustworthy source to cite in your projects.