Why reference books?
Reference books provide
- background information
- brief overviews of topics
- commonly used keywords and subject terms
- important people, places, events, and dates
- short bibliographies of related books and articles on the topic
Using Reference Books
Check for your keywords or subject terms in the index, which is usually the last volume of a multivolume set or at the end of a single volume book.
At the end of encyclopedia articles, look for a list of sources. This list may be called a bibliography, further readings, or suggested readings. Search for these sources in the library catalog.
Using an Encyclopedia
As a Background Source
The purpose of an encyclopedia is to provide basic information about a topic. Within the article, you should encounter important terms, the names of notable people, and background information on the topic. This can help you establish a foundation for your research.
Never Cite an Encyclopedia Article
This is something that is never done. Never!
Use the Bibliography at the End of an Article
Sources included are considered classic books and articles on the topic.
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