Finding Background Info!
The first place to start your paper is by looking for background information. There are tools to help you understand the major points of your topic, what is known about it, and how it relates to other topics.
But you need to be careful! While some of this information is often vetted (peer reviewed, scholarly, and written by experts).Just as often you will find background in news and magazines articles, opinion pieces and editorials, some of it written by experts, some written by reporters that may not be experts, and in some cases, (like the blogs comments on news web sites), you may not even know who wrote it.
So where can I find Background Information!
Some common resources include dictionaries and encyclopedias, almanacs, and bibliographies. The library has these in both print and electronic forms. There are also databases that provide background information. Some of these resources can be found in the magazines and newspapers located in the large general databases like Academic Search Premier, InfoTrac, Wilson Select Plus, and LexisNexis.
There are also specialized databases that have articles and reports with good background information on a wide range of topics. These include Americas Newspapers, Opposing Viewpoints, and CQ Researcher.