Once you have thought of a broad topic you would like to research, it is a good idea to read some background information about that topic. Getting an overview of the topic can give you perspective of how it fits in context with other related concepts. The databases listed below are like virtual encyclopedias and give you a good place to start finding background information. Check out our full list of reference databases by visiting our A-Z Database listing. You can also start gathering background information using open web tools like Google or Wikipedia, as long as you critically evaluate the sources you find.
As you read, it is a good idea to keep a list of common words used to describe your topic - these will help you as you start to search in subject specific databases!