Reference sources are sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, manuals, handbooks, or atlases that are meant to be referred to for background information about a topic. Instead of reading them all the way through, usually you read a small section of them to find information.
Reference sources, such as encyclopedias, are great sources for background reading because they can provide you with an overview of your topic. Because they provide general information, they aren't meant to be used as sources in your research papers (you will find more in-depth, current information to use for your research papers from sources such as academic articles, books, and credible websites). Instead, reference sources are meant to help you learn about your topic so that you can learn what is important or interesting about it and then decide how to focus your research question. You can often learn key vocabulary, issues, and subtopics from reading reference sources.
An example of a reference source is this encyclopedia entry on "Climate Change and Global Warming" from the Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science.
Pan, Z. (2020). Climate change and global warming. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science. https://proxy.umpqua.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=89475555&site=eds-live&scope=site
Using the UCC Library Search Box, you can find:
If I were searching for reference sources about net neutrality, I could try some of the following search terms:
If you know the specific title of a reference book, you can do a title search in the UCC Library Search Box to get the call number.
Umpqua Community College Library, 1140 Umpqua College Rd., Roseburg, OR 97470, 541-440-4640
Except where otherwise noted, content in these research guides is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.