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What is Background Information & Why Does it Matter?

Any research project you work on will be about something, or in other words, you are going to have a topic. In order to write about your topic in a lucid and coherent manner, you are going to need the background of your topic. Background information consists of the relevant facts, terminology, and contexts of your topic. It is the kind of information you would find in an encyclopedia.

Let's say that you were going to write a research paper about school violence and ways to address school violence. What do you need to know in order to write about school violence coherently? You may need to know:

  • the dates and specifics of famous incidents of school violence
  • the history of state and federal policy approaches for addressing school violence
  • various theories for why school violence is a phenomena

Not only do you need to know the above, but you will need to point your audience to an authoritative source that states that information should you use it in your paper - that is, you will need to cite the sources you use in your paper.

For further guidance on background information, check out these pages:

Library Databases for Background Information

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