Read About Your Topic in Specialized Encyclopedias

Taking a few minutes to read about your topic in a specialized encyclopedia may be one of the most effective and time saving research tips on this list! They can help with an overview of a subject, or even a quick summary of basic ideas. Encyclopedia articles are often followed by carefully selected bibliographies or lists of references to other works, useful items to have as you begin looking for additional information. 

Good places to start:

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library Complete full text of encyclopedias and dictionaries in education, environment, history, law, medicine, multicultural studies,religion, science, social science.   
  • CQ Researcher Investigative reports on contemporary and “hot topic” issues in the news.


Check individual subject guides related to your topic for a list of recommended encyclopedias on your topic. Encyclopedias are listed under the "Get Started" tab on most guides. 


Tip: Use other bibliographies to expand your list of research materials!

Look at the bibliographies that occur at the end of journal articles or in books that you've already found on your topic. A bibliography (a list of books, articles, etc.) is an instant "shopping list" of the best and most relevant sources on your topic.  Some are even annotated, with short descriptions of each entry.