Why use reference sources
Reference sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and handbooks can provide the following about a topic you might be exploring:
- Background information
- Brief, factual overviews
- Information about important dates, events, and people associated with the topic
- Terminology and definitions of terms
- Articles written by authors with expertise on your topic
- A list of further readings you can use as a springboard for your research.
The resources in the center box will lead you to hundreds of reference titles in UK Libraries in both paper and electronic formats. And the last two, Opposing Viewpoints and CQ Researcher, are not only good for overviews and context but also for exploring the pro and con positions taken concerning the topic.
Reference Universe allows you to search the contents of print and electronic reference titles (1986 - , updated semiannually). RU provides you with the location and call number of the print title in the paper collection while also providing page references. It links to the pages containing your search term in the electronic version.
Gale Virtual Reference Collection (GVRL) is a collection of full-text encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources. GVRL can be searched across the entire collection or by individual title.
Oxford Reference Online (ORO) provides quick-reference coverage of a broad range of subjects reference works from Oxford University Press in a single cross-searchable resource. The coverage includes over 130 subject dictionaries covering everything from art to accountancy, politics to physics, and computing to classics as well as English dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries of French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Quotations, 500+ full-color maps and flags, 12,000 images.
For more information about reference sources, see the research guide, General Reference Sources.
Pros and Cons
CQ Researcher provides reporting and analysis on issues in the news. Each single-themed, 13,000-word CQ Researcher report offers coverage of political and social issues, with regular reports on topics in health, international affairs, education, the environment, technology and the U.S. economy. Reports include a background and chronology, an assessment of the current situation, tables and maps, pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions, and bibliographies of key sources.
Opposing Viewpoints In Context is a collection of current event topics--the facts, as well as the arguments, of each topic's proponents and detractors. Includes Topic Overviews and access to the Information Plus reference series of statistics, government data, information on legislation and other data.
Reference and Information Services
William T. Young Library
Responsibilities: General Reference, Information Literacy and Library Instruction, Reference Collection Management, Academic Liaison for Social Work