Background v. In-Depth Information

Background information lays the groundwork for your research by giving you an overview of your topic and ideas for creating a workable research question.

For example, you need to write a paper about the Vietnam War. Gain a basic understanding of your topic by starting with books like:

  • The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
  • Southeast Asia: A Concise History

In-depth information provides the evidence you need to answer your research question and includes journal articles, scholarly books, primary sources, and other detailed studies.

Now you've decided to focus your Vietnam War paper on the impact of the Tet Offensive on American public opinion about the Vietnam War. You could move on to books and articles like:

  • Tet! Turning Point in the Vietnam War
  • Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington
  • The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinion

Quick facts are brief bits of information that answer specific, narrowly-focused questions. As you do your research, you may wonder: What does "Tet" refer to? Who led the American military response to the Tet Offensive? You can find answers to these questions in specialized reference books such as:

  • The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War
  • Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War