UMGC Library

BEHS 210: Introduction to Social Sciences: Background Reading on Your Topic

A Library Research Guide

Background Reading on Your Topic

When you've chosen a pretty broad topic, like homelessness, or race, or health care, it's a good idea to simply start reading about the topic on the web. 

Reading some general info from websites (that is, doing background reading) will help you get a general overview of your topic. It can also help you begin to think of ways to narrow your topic.

For example, while reviewing a few websites about homelessness, you may find facts about how women are affected by homelessness. That could spark your interest and become the topic for your projects in this class: homelessness and women.

Of course, not all information on the web is created equal. You should avoid websites that may be publishing misinformation. The library has a guide about judging the credibility of information sources.

A good way to search Google is to limit your search to government websites (.gov) or the sites of big organizations (.org)--they normally have trustworthy, useful info on societal issues. To limit a Google search to government or organizational websites, use site:.

Here are examples of Google searches that limit the search to either .gov or .org websites.

  • homelessness site:.gov
  • racism site:.org
  • heath care site:.org

Even though your projects in this class emphasize the use of scholarly articles from library databases, it's still a good idea to learn about your topic in a general way first! You'll find more tips on background reading in this guide from our library.