Skip to main content

Human Rights Studies

Your Librarian

Yoli Bergstrom-Lynch's picture
Yoli Bergstrom-Lynch


              Image Credits: SilviaPrieto / CC BY-SA (


This guide is designed to help you locate background informationarticles & newspapersbooks, international / non-profit institutionsdata, and citation tools for your human rights research. 

About Background Information

Encyclopedias, handbooks, and subject dictionaries are good places to locate background information on your topic.

Background sources may help you identify key ideas, writings, events, and theorists on your topic. They may also help you to narrow your topic and begin to formulate research questions. 

Quick tip: Use background resources to identify keywords you can use when searching. Especially note:

  • Spelling - transliterated names often have multiple spellings in the Roman alphabet. Col. Gaddafi, el-Qadaffi, Khaddaffi are recent examples
  • Place names change - For example Peking to Beijing  
  • Events and especially the dates when they occurred.
  • Scholarly vocabulary - note the terminology used by scholars. It is often different from  popular or journalistic language.  Ex.: Traditional birth attendant or TBA instead of midwife.

In addition to building a keywords check the bibliographies for sources.  The books and articles cited in the encyclopedias are usually written by scholars and are an excellent place to expand your research.