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Background helps you narrow from a vague topic of interest to a more focused research question. You use background sources to help you fill in your own gaps in prior knowledge and to point you towards articles you can use to support your argument.
"Oxford Handbooks Online brings together the world's leading scholars to write review essays that evaluate the current thinking on a field or topic, and make an original argument about the future direction of the debate. The Oxford Handbooks are one of the most successful and cited series within scholarly publishing, containing in-depth, high-level articles by scholars at the top of their field and for the first time, the entire collection of work across 14 subject areas."
Digitized articles from five major U.S. newspapers dating back to the 18th century -- includes the Boston Globe (1872-1982), the Los Angeles Times (1881-1990), the New York Times (1851-2009), the Wall Street Journal (1889-1996), and the Washington Post (1877-1997).
A collection of reports on issues affecting American politics, such as climate change, health care, immigration, and foreign policy.
Background Information Tips
Break your question into pieces. If, for example, you are looking at the topic of whether members of the House of Representatives choose committee assignments to increase their chances of reelection, you would be looking for background information on House committees and House reelection, not just sources that discuss the two together.
Don't be afraid to modify your question as you learn more about the topic.
Follow information to its source- the references in background information are great for finding original research on your topic.
Background sources are also important for helping you hone your political science vocabulary- note down key terms (eg. incumbency advantage) that you'll be able to use to search the academic literature.