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Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and Reference Resources: Home

What is a reference resource?

Online reference books are a great way to start your research project. You can get background information to learn more about your topic to develop things like your research question and thesis statement.

Just getting started? Try a database!

  • Credo Reference
    Credo Reference offers hundreds of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and specialized reference works. A good place to begin investigating a new topic.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Searchable, online reference encyclopedias and dictionaries providing a deeper look into topics in lots of subjects and disciplines.

Words & Definitions - Dictionaries & Thesauruses

Dictionaries are great for looking up the meanings of words. Depending on your topic, a subject-specific dictionary (such as a medical dictionary) can be an easy way to find out how a particular word or phrase is used in that subject.

People - Biographies

Biographies are useful when you're doing research on notable people from history and today.

Topics Pages

Summaries & Overviews - Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias give you a short essay, usually a summary or overview on a particular topic, and are a great place to start if you need to know more about your topic to search smarter, not harder.  Many encyclopedias will provide a bibliography or list for further reading, giving you a clear path forward to learn even more about aspects of your topic.


Quotations from notable literary works and prominent people are commonly used as a preface to longer works to set a certain tone.  Keep in mind that the quotations featured in these collections will not be as useful for in-depth research on academic topics, but are more for commonly-known quotable quotes.