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ENG 112: Writing and Research in the Disciplines

This Research Guide provides information to help you complete discipline specific research in English 112 classes using resources from the CCCC libraries and online.

A note on background Information

Why should you search for background information?

Basic facts: The articles you read and cite in your paper will assume you already know the basic facts about your topic.  These are the people, dates, places, and laws related to it.  You need to know these facts before you read academic articles to ensure you know what the writers are talking about!

Vocabulary: Academic writing may use words and terms for a topic that are different from those we use every day.  By researching the background of a topic, you'll learn which terms academic writers use to discuss your topic.

Narrowing you topic: Most students start off with a topic that's too big to cover in a five page paper.  By doing thorough background research, you can identify sub-topics that might be easier to work with.

The following Library Resources will help you find Background Information:

Library Lingo

Reference Source: A broad resource for basic facts and background.  They offer a good entry point to the basic information you will need to learn as you start to explore your topic.

Reference sources include, but are not limited to, Biographies, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Atlases, and Handbooks.

Who What When Where

The 4 Ws

Guide yourself through your Background Research by answering the following four questions:


Who are the people or groups relevant to your topic?  This can include companies or even fictional characters!

Example:  If you're writing about video games, this might include gamers, game designers, Hideo Kojima, Blizzard, or even Nathan Drake.


What are the major events, laws, controversies, or issues related to your topic?

Example:  If you're researching health care reform, this might include The Affordable Care Act, generic drug prices, or  access to care.



When have major events happened to affect your topic? This can include dates, eras, or even age ranges relevant to your topic.

Example:  If you're learning about school uniforms, this might include 1963the early 2000s, or teenagers.



Where are the places most affected by your topic? Which countries, regions, or states?  Does your topic affect urban or rural regions more?

Example:  If you're researching the minimum wage, this might include New York City, California, the Pacific North West, or urban centers.


If you need some help getting started...

CQ Researcher Tutorial

This video tutorial developed by Sage link will open in a new window, the creators of CQ Researcher, will help you learn the basics of using this resource to conduct Background Research.  


Need a little extra help?

Contact your librarian. 

Or use the links below to get more in-depth help and information.