Reference Sources: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
Popular starting points
- Britannica Online: an academic, general encyclopedia
- More encyclopedias
Dictionaries and a Thesaurus:
- Oxford English Dictionary: English language spelling, pronunciation, etymology and more ...
- Roget's Thesaurus: for synonyms and antonyms
- More dictionaries
Online collections of reference sources
- Blackwell Reference Online: Includes over 400 full-text reference works in the humanities and social sciences.
- Gale Virtual Reference: online encyclopedias mostly for the humanities and social sciences. Includes several huge, multi-volume sets ...
- Oxford Reference Online: 175+ dictionaries and encyclopedias for subject areas and languages
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.