Background information on a topic can help you decide if it is a good research area for your project or assignment. Even experienced researchers will choose to start with background information when working in an area that is new to them.
Typical sources of background information are encyclopedias, dictionarles, and handbooks. Review articles (see section below) can also prove very useful.
To find dictionaries and encyclopedias, use keyword searches in GEORGE, the Georgetown University Libraries catalog. Search for the name of the general or broad field and for dictionaries or encyclopedias.
Review articles are a great way to get an overview of a topic. They generally provide a summary of the state of the art in a research area, and their references provide excellent lists of relevant articles.