Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
When beginning research on a new topic, it’s often a good idea to start by reading one or several encyclopedia articles on it. This serves two purposes:
- Gives you an overview of the topic, plus some of the important terminology associated with it which you can then use when searching in databases, library catalogs, etc.
- Often provides a brief bibliography at the ends of the articles, i.e., sources specifically recommended for further research by the author of the article. It’s usually a very simple matter to track these down in ALICE or OhioLINK.
We recommend that you try using one or more of the sources below to find background information on a topic:
|The Gale Virtual Reference Library is an online collection of encyclopedias, dictionaries, biography sources, statistics, and other information. Categories include: arts, biography, business, education, environment, general reference, history, information and publishing, law, literature, medicine, multicultural studies, nation and world, religion, science, social science, and technology.|
|Oxford Reference Online is a collection of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works from Oxford University Press. Categories include: art & architecture, biological sciences, classics, computing, earth & environmental sciences, economics & business, food & drink, history, law, literature, medicine, military history, mythology & folklore, names & places, natural history, performing arts, physical sciences & mathematics, politics & social sciences, prehistory, religion & philosophy, and science.|
|There are hundreds of English language dictionaries, both online and in printed form. The most scholarly of these is the Oxford English Dictionary (below). Here are links to a number of online English dictionaries. Alden Library has a wide range of printed dictionaries and other “word books” in the Reference collection on the 2nd floor in the general call number range of PE1400-PE1700.|
|The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) provides definitions of over 500,000 English words from the Middle Ages to the present; traces the usage of words from their first recorded occurrence to the modern period through 2.5 million quotations; offers etymological analysis and detailed listings of variant spellings; and uses the International Phonetic Alphabet to show pronunciation.|