As you begin your research, consulting a reference source such as an encyclopedia, handbook or dictionary can increase your understanding of the topic. The background information from these sources may provide timelines, definitions of key concepts, and people of importance. You may also discover search terms or a bibliography to help identify primary and secondary sources.
The library subscribes to a variety of academic reference sources (see lists below). Most often you will not cite these sources for your assignments, but use them to build a strong foundation for your paper or presentation.
Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project based on an openly-editable model. For the most part, Wikipedia entries are created by anonymous volunteers. The community of volunteers is largely responsible for reviewing and correcting errors or misinformation.
Just as you would not start and end your research with a library reference source, you should not start and end your research with Wikipedia. Take notes, browse the article for ideas, and follow their suggested links. Never assume that the information from this source is correct -- it should be evaluated and verified like any other source (print or electronic). In fact, you can never assume that one source is adequate for college-level research papers.
General Reference Sources
Subject-specific Reference Sources