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Find: Encyclopedias

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Are you beginning research on a topic new or unfamiliar to you? If so, an excellent way to begin is to consult an encyclopedia, the ideal starting place if you are a non-specialist on your topic. They will typically provide: an overview and background information on a topic, the established knowledge on a topic, the most important facts about a topic, the key figures, places, or events related to your topic, a list of recommended readings on a topic.

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Try searching: "your topic keyword" AND encyclop*
   You may also try searching dictionary, handbook, or guide.



  • They have gone through an editorial process.
  • They are often written by specialists in the field.
  • They do not use jargon.
  • They tend to be short and concise.


  • They are intended as an overview and are not the best source for up-to-date developments.
  • They are not a complete look at the scholarship and research on a topic.
  • They are a good starting point and a great place to establish keywords and research leads.