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Stony Brook University


Resources for Research in History

Doing Background Research

Background research in secondary sources like reference works and other books will give you a better understanding of your topic and provide keywords that will help you search in other online databases.

Things to look for:

  • The timeline: make sure you understand important dates and timespans that define your topic
  • Proper names: who are the people, places, and institutions related to your topic? Look for variant spellings and names that differ from contemporary accounts to the present day
  • Phrases from the scholarly literature: what specific terms do you see applied to your topic in the published research?

Online Reference Collections