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ENG 101: College Writing (Forman): Reference Resources

What is a Reference Resource?

Reference resources are usually encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, manuals and other publications that you refer to when wanting a definition of a word or concept, a general overview of a topic, specific information about a certain period of time or event in history. Consulting reference materials is a valuable first step in any research project.

Choosing and Narrowing your Topic

Selecting a topic is often one of the most difficult parts of doing research. If you have a choice of research topics, start by choosing a topic you like, or one you are curious about. Here are some more suggestions:

  • Browse a subject encyclopedia (in print or online) for ideas, concepts, and vocabulary
  • Browse newspapers (in print or online) for topic ideas; but watch out, if the topic is extremely new there may not be enough written about it yet to satisfy your assignment
  • Do some exploratory searches in an article database and read some abstracts there
  • Talk to your Professor or to a reference librarian — they can show you how to use online resources and help with your topic selection

Is your topic too big? Is it too narrow? Will you be able to find enough on the topic? You won't know for sure until you get started, but developing a good keyword list, including some broader and narrower terms for your topic, will help and it's quick and easy to do. Start by doing some background reading.

eReference Sources

How to Use Credo Reference Topic Pages & Narrow Your Topic