To find background sources, the best strategy is to look at encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, and books. This strategy applies to library catalogs and databases that contain "reference collections".
Here is how you can locate these materials:
First and foremost, build a list of related words (synonyms vs antonyms; broad vs narrow terms). For example, Language (linguistics, communication, verbal, non-verbal) or Identity (representation, self, group identity, online identity, culture, behavior, expression, etc.)
Always use Advanced Search so you can build a specific strategy, using AND, OR, NOT, and specific fields:
For example: [Subject] contains Social Media AND [Subject] contains Identity AND [Subject] contains Encyclopedias
Here are some sample results from our library catalog, based on the strategies above:
From the library catalog
Encyclopedia of Identity by Ronald L. Jackson (Editor)No matter whether it is a discussion of nationhood, race, family, adolescence, or popular culture, identity is a mainstay in everyday conversations about who we say we are as individuals and citizens within a local or national community. The Encyclopedia of Identity presents a broad, comprehensive overview of the definitions, politics, manifestations, concepts, and ideas related to identity. The Encyclopedia is designed for readers to grasp the nature and breadth of identity as a psychological, social, anthropological, and popular idea.
These sources are more likely to be journals, specialized books, databases that contain data sets. To find them, you need to think about the type of information you need and ask yourself:
Who might publish that information? For example, datasets on Language are typically collected by the census, international organizations, gallop reports, etc.
What type of exhibit? Are you looking at historical data? current data? How long of a set? Are you needing surveys?
Where would this data be published? reports (by for-profit), gallop surveys (by governments or a non-profit), statistical publications (typically by organizations)? Original research (typically in journal articles)?
The most comprehensive resource on the market for communication research and offers abstracts and indexing as well as full-text content from publications worldwide pertaining to Communication, Linguistics, Rhetoric and Discourse, Speech-Language Pathology, Media Studies and other fields relevant to the discipline.
This database abstracts and indexes the international literature in linguistics and related disciplines in the language sciences and includes journal articles, book reviews, books, book chapters, dissertations and working papers. The database covers all aspects of the study of language including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Database Guide
Full-text database with scholarly journal articles and other sources covering linguistics (coverage varies; ranging from 80s to present). Includes articles in French, German, Spanish, Italian and some in a number of other languages. Database Guide
1894-present.The full text of nearly 80 journals from the American Psychological Association as well as its imprint, the Educational Publishing Foundation (EPF), and from allied organizations including the Canadian Psychological Association and the Hogrefe Publishing Group. It includes all journal articles, book reviews, letters to the editor and errata from each journal.
1956-2017. Produced by the American Psychological Association, full text book reviews featuring current scholarly and professional books in psychology. Also publishes reviews from a psychological perspective of popular films and trade books.
1887-present. American Psychological Association's renowned resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations, it is the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health. Database Guide. Also see definitions of methodologies.
Remember that your topic could fall under interdisciplinary subjects. You should always consider other guides.