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On this page you will find a list of key reference books that provide a general overview of a topic or help identify synonyms, related terms, or basic data. These sources often include references and lists of further readings and are a great resource to turn to when you need background information or are brainstorming ideas for further research.
Authoritative Reference Sources vs Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a great resource for getting general info about something, but because anyone can contribute or change its content it is considered unreliable. College faculty typically do not consider Wikipedia a credible information source.
Instead, use the library's print or electronic encyclopedias, dictionaries, or other reference books to backup the basic information of your research paper. These resources have gone through an editorial process to check for accuracy. To the right and below are some resources that may be of use.
Online Encyclopedias and More
Oxford Reference Online
100 well-known and trusted dictionaries and reference books combined into a single cross-searchable web database.
The electronic version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. An excellent starting point for almost any topic of research, the Britannica offers both concise descriptions, and longer, more comprehensive articles on a wide variety of topics.
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Shelved near librarians' offices.
Print Reference Books
Below is a selection of resources available in the Reference section of the library; these are African-related titles or titles that contain sections on Africa or African countries. These resources do not checkout and must be used in the library.
What librarians can do for you...
Subject librarians are here to help with your research!
You can set up an individual research consultation with a subject librarian for research help. Here are a few other things that we can do for you:
- Show you the best places to begin your research.
- Help you develop effective search strategies.
- Locate the information you need within our library.
- Obtain books, articles, cds, etc. from other libraries.
- Find additional information from citation lists/bibliographies.
- Judge the quality & reliability of information.
- Use information ethically (e.g. plagiarism).
- Cite information correctly (e.g. APA style).
- Demonstrate how to use citation resources.
- Tell the difference between various literature types.
- Determine whether something is peer-reviewed.
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