It's easy to get quickly overwhelmed with too much information. It's a good idea to do a bit of "pre-search" to get a basic understanding of a topic before diving into your research. Background sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries are excellent starting places for this.
Dictionaries: Define specific words or phrases. A lot of scholarly research uses technical terms or jargon that may not be familiar to you.
Encyclopedias: Provide mini-essays on different topics. They broadly summarize research and can help you to narrow a large topic, and also get a starting list of good sources. KPU Library has many scholarly encyclopedias on specialized subjects. Each entry in the encyclopedia is usually written by an expert on that subject.
Click on the tabs to see some useful examples.
Scholarly encyclopedias are great places to start your "pre-search". They usually provide "mini-essays" written by experts on a certain topic and also include references to important books and articles on the subject.
Wikipedia can be a great place to start your research: to find basic background information and to define terms. Use it cautiously, though. Anyone can add information to Wikipedia, so you really don't know whether you can trust it. Always verify facts and claims in another source. The references provided can be excellent pointers to scholarly sources.
If you don't know what a word means, or wonder what the right word is for something, use a dictionary. Here is a link to a few online dictionaries.