You've chosen a topic and established a realistic time-table; it's now time to begin searching for background information. There's no one optimal way to commence the research process. Much depends on one's experience with library and other resources, on one's work habits, and, of course, on one's knowledge of the topic being researched.
Some New Titles
To get an overview of a particular playwright or play, try the database Literature Resource Center. Literature Resource Center provides up-to-date criticism, biographies, bibliographies, work overviews and explications, Web sites, periodical articles, compare and contrast pages, full-text author's works, and reading lists on nearly 130,000 writers in all disciplines, from all time periods and from around the world. Other places to start might include:
- Reference Universe: good for searching selected reference e-books, as well as the indexes of books in the library's print Reference Collection.
- Wikipedia: content may change, but often is quite reliable. Be sure to corroborate results by searching another source as well.
- Gale Virtual Reference Library: another good source for basic biographical information.