General eReference Sources for Background Research
Use Gale Virtual Reference Library and Sage Knowledge for background inforation about your topic. Enter your term or phrase, find "Overview" type articles to find out the background, sub-topics, and literature reviews to find key words, key dates, key names and events or legislation. This will help you narrow and focus your topic.
For field specific background reference:
Using Wikipedia for Academic Research?
How do I use Wikipedia?
When do I NOT use Wikipedia?