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Background Research


Library Stacks (University of Chicago)

Library Stacks (University of Chicago)

Kris Cohen

Background research refers to accessing the collection of previously published and unpublished information about a site, region, or particular topic of interest and it is the first step of all good archaeological investigations, as well as that of all writers of any kind of research paper.

Background research may include some combination of conducting a review of the archaeological literature, obtaining copies of current topographic maps and aerial photos, obtaining copies of historic maps and plats of the region, and interviewing archaeologists who have conducted work in the area, local landowners and historians, and members of indigenous tribes who may have knowledge about your area.

Doing Background Research

So, how do you do background research? Start with a review of the literature.

This definition is part of the About.com guide to writing research papers:

  1. Finding a research paper topic
  2. Finding the literature
  3. Reading and synthesizing the literature
  4. Writing a first draft
  5. Writing the final draft

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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