Reference information sources can be helpful when beginning the research process. They can give you a working knowledge of your chosen subject area. They allow you to:
The college library has access to hundreds of online reference sources. You can access these titles in the A-Z List of Reference Sources here.
Reference books are also available in print at libraries that have physical collections. Contact your local academic or public library to see what they have available in print (you will not normally be able to access the online collections of other academic libraries).
There are also some reference sources freely available on the Web (such as Wikipedia). Just be sure to evaluate these the way you would any other source before basing your research on them.
There are many different kinds of reference information sources, and each is useful for finding a certain type of information.
You do not normally cite reference materials, such as dictionaries or encyclopedias, or textbooks, because they do not contain original research. They are what are called tertiary sources (more on that later), which means they are typically a condensed version of multiple secondary sources, usually aimed at non-scholarly audiences.
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