The articles you read and cite in your paper will assume you already know the basic facts about your topic. Basic facts include the people, dates, places, and laws related to the topic. You need to know these facts before you read academic articles to ensure you know what the writers are talking about.
Academic writing may use words and terms for a topic that are different from those we use every day. By researching the background of a topic, you'll learn which terms academic writers use to discuss your topic.
Most students start off with a topic that's too big to cover in a five-page paper. By doing thorough background research, you can identify sub-topics that might be easier to work with.
You will typically use reference sources to gather background information about a topic. The databases listed on this page are great starting points for this particular subject area, but keep in mind that the Library has many more sources for finding background information. Ask a librarian for advice if you are not finding what you need.