Skip to Main Content

The Detective Novel: ENG 0857

Research help for the course, "The Detective Novel."

Why Use Reference Works?

Young woman sitting at the library using books and laptopReference works -- like encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries -- provide great overviews and background information. 

  • They help you contextualize your topic and generate questions.
  • They help identify keywords you can use later when searching for scholarly sources. 
  • They contain bibliographies that lead you 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. 

Get Background Info

Individual looking up informationNeed to look up a name, place, term, or event?  The sources below contain many different kinds of encyclopedias and dictionaries and are excellent starting points for getting an overview on your topic as well as possible search terms to use later. Try them.

Word Definitions, Spellings, & Histories

Need to find the earliest references to a word or phrase like "cockleburr"? Need to understand how a word was defined in a particular time period? Then these sources are for you!

Author Biographies & Biographical Overviews

silhouette of two individualsBiographies provide insights into individuals' lives and achievements. The sources below contain brief biographies or biographical overviews on individuals. Many also point to other resources about an individual, including related news stories, book-length biographies, and/or author interviews.

Background Info on Crime, Detection, & Criminal Justice

These sources provide definitions and overviews of specific terms, concepts, and ideas. Try using them. In fact, try comparing definitions across several sources.