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Begin your Research with Reference Sources

What are reference sources?

  • Reference sources can serve two functions:
    • They can provide facts and background information on a subject, such as definitions, history or timeline, dates, and key statistics or formula
    • They can provide an overview or summary of a given topic
      • Scholarly reference sources may discuss the evolution of research within a given field and often include a list of references for further reading
  • Examples of reference sources include:
    • Handbooks and manuals
    • Dictionaries and thesauri
    • Almanacs and yearbooks
    • Encyclopedias, and
    • Bibliographies

Why use reference sources?

  • They are a great place to start if you don't know much about your topic
  • They can help surface topic ideas for research papers
  • If you have a topic in mind, they can give you the 'big picture' and situate your topic appropriately
  • They can lead you to more in-depth and recommended sources on your topic.