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Research Guides

PIT FYS - Love and Loathing in Los Angeles - Prof. Ballagh - FA 2017

Why use background sources?

Background sources are used to provide justification, rationale, or context for your research problem. In your research, they introduce you to the theories, theorists, and approaches central to your topic. In your assignment, these are usually used to answer  "why should I care about this?"

For your assignment, you can find background information on your research topic, like gentrification, or on a place in Los Angeles, like Mariachi Plaza.


Encyclopedias provide overviews of your topic, the nuances and disagreements, and who the key theorists or writers are. Encyclopedias are a good place to start when you first start exploring your topic.

Newspapers and magazines

Newspapers are great places for the local perspective on your research topic. Search these newspaper databases for newspaper articles about your topic.

Data and stats

You might need to provide some data or statistics to contextualize your research problem. Use the non-profit and governmental websites below - and see even more in the EXHIBIT SOURCES section of this guide.