Reference sources, like encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks, provide great overviews. They help researchers contextualize their topics and begin to ask the right questions. They also help with generating search terms to use when later searching in research databases.
Moreover, reference works contain bibliographies that lead researchers to the most respected secondary and most useful primary sources on a topic.
In short, reference works are a great way to begin your research.
Need some context? These are detailed guides to authors, composers, philosophers, genres, various literatures and other fields of study, providing context and analysis for a thorough introduction.