Before deciding on a specific topic for your research paper, it is important to begin with some background reading in the related broad subject area to gain familiarity with concepts and vocabulary. For example, Reference Books will point to more specialized areas of the subject and often have bibliographies to lead to additional information.
A reference book is a book that can be used by itself as a source of information without use of a second source. The information is usually concise and factual; however, the information may vary in length from a brief definition or statistic to a lengthy article.
Reference books usually include access components such as indexes that lead to information elsewhere in the book itself, rather than to other sources of information. In many cases, reference books cannot be used effectively without using access points included in the reference tool. It is therefore important to look for indexes and other access keys in reference books.
Dictionaries (English Language)
Listed below are examples of online reference sources that may be useful before beginning your search strategy. Click on the links to review them.
English Language Dictionaries
In this tutorial you will learn how to use Wikipedia as an exploratory tool and where it can appropriately fit in the research process. Video tutorial created by Michael Baird, Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP).