Question: What value lies in a reference work? Why, for example, would a researcher bother to consult a scholarly encyclopedia?
Answer: Reference works 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.
Think about topics that interest you. To generate some ideas, try the sources below. They offer background information on current events and controversial topics. And, they give both sides of an issue, so you can develop a better understanding of the topic.
Need 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.