Skip to main content

AFSA01 Africa in the World: An Introduction

This guide will help you to find the resources needed to complete your research assignments.

Background Research

Doing background research is a great way to get familiar with a topic, learn more about it, and help to generate keywords for your searching. Reference resources, like encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks, and dictionaries are good to use for background research. You can also use Wikipedia!

Check with your instructor to see if reference resources are allowed to be used as cited sources in your assignment. Even if they don't count as sources you can include, you can still use them to get familiar with your topic.

Search Terms

Searching for information relies heavily on the use of search terms, or keywords. Being able to translate your topic into meaningful search terms can be the difference between quickly finding information, or having a long and frustrating search for relevant articles.

Here are some ways to generate keywords:

  • Brainstorm keywords ahead of time. Consider your topic: Was it covered in course readings? What do you know about it already?
  • Consider synonyms.
  • Consider phrases that are used to describe a topic.
  • Do some background research using encyclopedias, or even Wikipedia. Consider the words being used to describe your topic.
  • Look at the words that pop up as you type in a database. There might be a new keyword in there somewhere.
  • If the database has one, look at the thesaurus.
  • Find an article that is really relevant to your topic. What keywords are within the article? What subjects were assigned to the article? Look at the references for that article.