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Preliminary research is the research that you do when you are just beginning to explore your topic. The sources you find at this stage typically will not actually be used in the body of your paper; their job is to help you begin to understand your topic.
Reference sources are a good place to start when you are beginning your research and want to find an overview article. They are books that collect overview articles, usually written by experts, that are a page to several pages in length. These books are usually available in databases.
Textbooks are also often a good place to start your research.