Monday, October 21, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Reference Databases

Do you have a research topic you don't know anything about? 
Do you need a good starting point for your research?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, you need a reference database! Reference databases contain sources like encyclopedias or dictionaries. These sources can be general- covering multiple topics, or subject-specific. The databases contain reference works on everything from genetics to fashion to education and more. The library has two of these databases- Gale Virtual Reference Library and Credo Reference. In these databases you can search multiple reference sources at once, or search inside an individual title related to your topic. 

Reference books are not usually considered scholarly sources for research papers,  but they can provide valuable background information on a topic that you are unfamiliar with. They can provide definitions, major issues related to the topic and biographical information on important people related to your topic. 

Protip? The articles found in these databases often have bibliographies or lists of articles and books for further research. Use these as a starting point to gather scholarly sources, which you can cite in your research papers.

We also have all of the encyclopedias pictured in this post, and many other print encyclopedias
(and other reference works) at the library. You can search the library catalog to find them, or come by and ask a librarian! We can show you where they are and help you identify which ones are appropriate for your research.

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