Using Reference Materials
So much of what we use to do research is now online, but there are a few reference sources that are used the most at our library. They are Dictionaries, General Encyclopedias, Specialized Encyclopedias, Almanacs, Biographical Sources, and Atlases. The following chart will help you become familiar with these sources.
It is a good idea to search for as many sources on your topic as you have time to evaluate. After evaluating all of your sources, choose the best ones to write your paper. (You may use all the sources you consulted in your Bibliography. In your Works Cited you include only the sources that you cited in your research paper.) Different sources can provide different information on your topic.
Use the chart on the first page to help you answer the following questions.
1. What type of book could you use to start your research if you have little or no previous knowledge about your research topic?
2. If you already have some knowledge on your topic, what type of reference source would be a good place to begin your research?
3. If you are doing research on a person what two reference sources could you check for information?
4. What reference source will have the most up-to-date information? Why? What makes this source less useful than some other reference sources?
5. If you need geographical information what reference source could you use?
6. When doing research, is it a good idea to use several sources. Why?