Reference Sources: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Popular starting points


Dictionaries and a Thesaurus:

Online collections of reference sources

Why use these?

Scenario: you're assigned a paper topic that you know nothing about, and Wikipedia hasn't helped or you're forbidden to use it) ... What do you do? Find a subject encyclopedia!

Reference sources (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.) provide summary and factual information. Use them to:

  • find basic concepts and viewpoints of topic
  • see historical context and relationships to other topics
  • identify and define specialized terms used to discuss the topics
  • find or verify data, facts, formulas, etc.