Reference sources serve three main functions:
Encyclopedias attempt to summarize the state of knowledge in a field of inquiry. Encyclopedias are sometimes called tertiary sources because they summarize the secondary literature on a topic. An encyclopedia can be a valuable starting point for your research.
Three online reference collections that students often find useful are:
Some specific encyclopedias you might find helpful:
Bibliographies (sometimes called "handbooks" or "guides") can assist you in charting a path through the vast amount of research available on a topic. Specialized bibliographies can also help you identify difficult-to-find materials.
Recommended online sources for biographical information:
Additional biographical encyclopedias:
In addition to biographical encyclopedias, biography indexes can help you find biographies published in sources other than encyclopedias (magazine articles, books):