How to Write a Background Paper

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Writing a background paper can be a challenging part of a college course. The background paper requires careful research, diligent compilation of data from multiple sources as well as intelligently forming your own opinions about the subject. The background paper should make complete sense to someone who has no knowledge of the subject, while simultaneously being educational to someone who already has a basic understanding of the subject.

1 Establish the most important questions

Establish the most important questions you'll need to ask yourself to write this paper. Examples include, "What were this person's major accomplishments?" or "What influenced this person to become who he is?"

2 Find authoritative sources of information

Find authoritative sources of information. Start at your local library. Try to find books written by authoritative and respected individuals. Then look through journals and online sources related to the subject.

3 Establish the basic history

Establish the basic history of the subject in the beginning of your paper. Recap the most important points concisely and establish why writing the paper is important.

4 Cover the most important issues

Cover the most important issues. Start by establishing what those issues are in different sections. Then fill out each section with details. When you're finished, you should have a detailed compilation of your subject's background.

State your own conclusions about your subject. This can be simply a recap of your research, or it can be more opinionated, depending on the writing style required for your class.

Derek Young has been writing professionally since 2006. He's written for Mason Communications and has appeared in "SF Weekly" magazine. Young studied Web development at the College of San Mateo.