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Why Use Reference Sources?
Reference sources are good places to gather background information on a topic or get ideas when choosing a topic.
- specific factual information such as dates
- overviews or summaries of topics
- recommendations for additional sources
- research vocabulary
Types of reference sources
- specialized encyclopedias
- statistical compilations
For background information, start with an exhaustive reference work such as Oxford Art Online . Both the 'Guided Tour' and 'Tips for Users' (available from the Home page) provide useful information on searching.
Bibliographies located in books or at the end of journal articles can be very helpful.
Online Reference Sources
American National Biography
The American National Biography offers portraits of more than 17,400 men and women -- from all eras and walks of life -- whose lives have shaped the nation.
Biography in Context
Offers over 600,000 biographies spanning history and geography with over 50,000 new and/or updated biographies added annually.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online includes the complete encyclopedia, as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, Britannica Student Encyclopedia and the Britannica Book of the Year.
Oxford Art Online
An online encyclopedia of art "from prehistory to the present day."
Print Reference Sources
The Reference Collection on the 3rd Floor of Dimond Library is another good place to start your research. Reference sources can provide background on your area of study, help you focus your topic, and serve as a springboard to other research.
In our collection you'll find:
- general encyclopedias (such as World Book)
- specialized encyclopedias that go into depth on one particular area of study
Check with your instructor to verify which reference sources may be cited in your project and which should be used for background research only.