Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

How To Do Research: Exploring Reference Sources

An introductory guide on the research process for graduate students.

Exploring Reference Sources

Reference sources, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks, can be great sources in which to find general background information or overviews of topics. Reference sources are considered authoritative, so you can rely on them to provide credible information. These sources often provide facts, timelines, events, major figures, definitions, origins, theories, and more.

You can find reference sources in the library within the eBook Academic Collection. Try searching for the any of the types of reference sources along with your general subject area; for example:  handbooks AND business. See How to Find E-books for additional search tips. You may also browse many subject encyclopedias and dictionaries from the library's e-books listed below.

Remember that although you can use reference sources to help you learn more about the background of your subject area, you will not be able to use them as cited references in your academic research reports.

Subject Encyclopedias

Subject Dictionaries

Ask a Librarian!

JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

Research Appointments

The CSU librarians can support you during the research process with personalized reference services. We are happy to help you with the following tasks:

  • Accessing and using the CSU Library databases in order to create a peer-reviewed literature review with library resources
  • Using free personalized database folders within multiple database platforms to organize your research
  • Brainstorming keywords and recommending search limiters to use
  • Locating the dissertations and theses that may support and inform your research process