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Encyclopedias: A Quick & Easy Way to Pick a Topic and Start Your Research: Why Start with Encyclopedias?

The advantages of using encyclopedias as a starting point in research and guidance in locating them. Includes links.

Why should I start my research with encyclopedias?

Because it's the easiest way to pick a topic --- saving you time!

  • Encyclopedias are catalogs of topicsJust browse through and pick one! 

Because most encyclopedia articles are short --- saving you time!

  • Subject experts have condensed it down, usually to one or two pages. Or would you rather read a 900-page book?  

Because it's the easiest way to get good search terms --- saving you time!

  • Encyclopedia articles mention and define search terms you can use in database searches (concepts, names, processes).  

Because it's the easiest way to get acquainted with your subject!

  • Encyclopedias acquaint you with the broad outlines of the subject---sometimes saving you from embarrassing errors!
  • Encyclopedias tell you where to get more high-quality information.  Just use the list of resources at the end of the article to expand your research!  

Now you can click on:

  • either the middle tab above to find both paper and electronic encyclopedias,
  • or to the third tab above to search hundreds of online encyclopedias instantly.

Begin your research with a specialized encyclopedia to save timeOr: do it the long, hard way.  If you wait until after you have gotten well into your research, you might already have wasted time getting initially acquainted with the topic. An encyclopedia often could have saved you that time if you had started there.

Subject Guide