WR 60 - Winter 2014 - Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Dictionaries and academic encyclopedias - called reference works - are a great research tool.

Why should you use academic encyclopedias for your research? Well, they...

  • provide broad information on a topic, including the most important facts, terms, and people for you to know.
  • are written & edited by experts.
  • include references and bibliographies.
  • may be about a whole academic field (e.g., education) or a just specific subset of a field (e.g., diversity in education).

You can find academic encyclopedias on the Library's website by clicking on the blue icon on the home page that says "Encyclopedias & More."

Library Icon Encyclopedias

On the next page, you can select the link for "Encyclopedias" (or "Dictionaries and Thesauri" if you're looking specifically for dictionaries).

Dictionaries or Encyclopedias

Once on the encyclopedias page, you'll see several links at the top of the page with names like "Credo Reference," "Gale Virtual Reference Library," etc. These are search engines that let you search multiple academic encyclopedias at once. There are different links for different publishers or distributors. The content is different at each link, so you may need to search in more than one place to find the information you need.

For your literacy topic, you should try searching Credo Reference, Gale Virtual Reference Library, and the Sage Reference Collection.

Encyclopedia Collections

After you do a search, it's important to understand what your search results are telling you. Although each search system will look a little different, the basic information you'll see is the same.This information is important to help you select a search result (the encyclopedia title, for example, can often give you a hint what the article is about), but it's also most of the information you'll need for your citations!

encyclopedia search results