Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and overviews are scholarly, tertiary works written by experts on a variety of topics. An hour spent with one or more subject encyclopedias early on in the research process will save you hours of wasted time! The background information provides a good starting point as you begin the research process. Articles in subject encyclopedias are written by scholars who have deep specialization in the topic and the articles themselves go through a stringent editing process. Here's what subject encyclopedias provide:
In Collins Library, the print reference collection is located on the first floor, and most of the online reference collection is available in one of the database collections listed on the right. Use Primo to identify subject encyclopedias in either format; or ask a librarian for recommendations.
Subject encyclopedias provide a quick way to gather background information and capture multidisciplinary lenses on a single topic. Compare, for example, the following selection of entries, all relating in some fashion to the Paris Commune. For each entry, ask yourself these questions:
All Groups: "Paris Commune" from Wikipedia
Group 1: "Commune de Paris" from the New Oxford Companion to Literature in French
Group 2: "Commune of Paris" from the Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940 [print book provided in class]
Group 3: "Paris Commune" from the Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right
Group 4: "La Commune" from France: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present [print book provided in class]
Group 5: "Paris Commune" from the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World
Group 6: "Paris Commune" from the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History
Group 7: "Commune, Paris (1871)" from The Oxford Companion to Military History
Covers biographies, criticism, country surveys, artistic styles and movements, art forms, subject matter and iconography, and techniques. Note: Limit of 3 simultaneous users.
Not sure where to look? Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.