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First-Year Composition

For all first-year composition classes: ENG 101, ENG 107, ENG 102, ENG 108, ENG 105.

Step Three


SUMMARY: Learn more about your topic by reading articles in encyclopedias. Note any interesting topics or information in the bibliographies at the end of the encyclopedia articles and keep a research notebook on the related topics and key words you find. Use this new information to identify the main concepts or keywords in your question.

The Value of Background Resources

Before jumping directly into searching for sources to answer your research question, it can be useful to look up some background sources to give you more knowledge and insight into your topic.  Background sources are just that: They provide a summary, or background, about the topic.  Gathering basic knowledge about your topic can help you form a better research question and give you more ideas, such as keywords and important events or ideas, to search for. 

Review our tutorial to better prepare you for using background resources.

Finding and Using Background Research

Online Reference Collections

Here is a ready list of some of the more useful collections of encyclopedias and other background sources from the ASU Library.


Hours and Locations