Reference sources provide foundational knowledge on any topic, and offer relevant names, dates, facts, figures and data. Types of reference sources include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, and atlases.
Encyclopedias are not acceptable sources to cite in an academic paper, but they are an indispensible start for research that helps you frame your topic. The rich, dynamic content from the online Encyclopædia Britannica combined with Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus (both provided by the Massachusetts Libraries), offer reliable sources for students to consult when conducting thorough research.
Think about what kind of information you need; this will help you seek out the best sources for material.
There are three basic types of sources:
1) Primary Sources
To learn more about primary sources and how to find them, click on the subpage, Primary Sources, located within this guide.
2) Secondary Sources
3) Tertiary Sources