Reference sources are books and e-books that provide general background information; they are great for giving you an overview or an introduction to a topic. They are often the best starting place for your research. Use reference sources to:
The most valuable reference sources for your research will often be encyclopedias: books containing articles (sometimes very short, sometimes more detailed) on a wide variety of subjects. If you have an idea for a topic, and want to find out more about it, or possibly narrow it down, academic encyclopedias are a great place to look, because they provide authoritative, reliable background information which is:
They also often provide suggested further reading on your topic, which can help you continue your research.
So as you get started with your research topic, try looking in a reference source!
The library has several online collections of reference sources which allow you to search across hundreds of different reference e-books to find articles related to your topic.
Use this box to search the library's online reference collections using OneSearch:
While most of the library's reference sources are available online, we also have a number of print reference books. These books are:
If you're looking for a print reference book related to your topic, you can browse this collection, or ask a librarian for help!
Wikipedia is an example of a free online reference source-- it's popular because it's so broad and easy to use.
But it's often not a great source to use in academic writing, because:
So, many professors will ask that you not cite Wikipedia in your assignments or cite it only as a last resort.
The library's reference sources aim to provide background information like that found in Wikipedia, but from sources you can confidently cite and use in your paper.