Before conducting any research in scholarly literature, gain a thorough background in your topic area through easily available tools like Google or Wikipedia. This "pre-research" stage is important for you to gain vocabulary and terms that people use when discussing your research topic.
The resources at UCI like CQ Researcher or the Gale Virtual Reference Library also offer more comprehensive but encyclopedic background information.
These resources to get started are often called "Popular Sources" because they are written for the general population. You should gain familiarity with your topic by reading popular sources before looking for scholarly sources, because scholarly (aka academic, peer-reviewed) sources tend to use very specialized language that can be difficult to understand if you do not already have a general background in the topic area.
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