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Communication: Background Information

Reference Sources

"Use reference books, also called reference or background sources, to get quick specific facts or information or an overview of a subject...Some examples of reference sources are: dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, almanacs, directories, atlases, and handbooks. These can be online or in print" (McKenzie, 2017). 

Reference sources can also point to scholarly sources in their list of references or suggested resources for further reading.

In a print reference source, use the index located at the back of the book to see if there are any pages that discuss your topic. You may have to think about other ways your topic could be worded. For example, if you are looking up environmental justice, you may also need to look up environmental racism. eBooks will also have an index; the index may be searchable, but you can also run a search within the text of the eBook itself. The library also has databases that focus exclusively on reference material.

5 Reasons to Use Reference Sources

University of Guelph Library (2:41)

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research

Hartness Library (3:25)



eBook & Reference Databases