Conducting Library Research

Encyclopedias

General encyclopedias, such as the New Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Encyclopedia Americana, are written for the non-specialist, someone who wants an overview of a topic, or are looking for a fairly general fact. These types of sources provide introductions to many subjects and may be especially valuable when first casting around for a research topic. Generally, they have an index volume and cross-references to help you in your search.

Once you've begun investigating more thoroughly, you may want to supplement your background reading by consulting more specialized encyclopedias that cover specific fields of study in greater depth. Often, they will include useful bibliographies of related sources. A sampling of titles includes:

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Introduction