International Studies information resources: Background information

If you need help, please contact Baharak Yousefi, Liaison Librarian at or or Ask a librarian.

It is important to have knowledge on your topic before you begin research. Background information will help you be better informed on the area and taking the time to do background research will give you foundational knowledge such as vocabulary, concepts, and history on the topic. This will give you a better sense on which key terms to use when searching for resources on databases as well as help you further refine your topic. 

How to find background information

The Library Catalogue is an excellent place to find background information. Search for your topic, then select Reference Entries under the Resource Type filter to the left of your search results.

As part of your search on the Library Catalogue, include words such as encyclopedia and dictionary. Example: security AND dictionary 

Background information resources

Tip: Below are databases that are an excellent source for reference books including encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, etc.: 

Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Use dictionaries to better understand words and concepts. Use encyclopedias to quickly get up to speed on a new topic or as a starting point in your research process.