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English Literature: Reference

Guiding you to research resources for English Literature

Online Resources

About "Reference" Resources

Reference sources are online or print encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases or any other source designed to provide a concise yet authoritative overview of a topic.

Reference sources are excellent sources to use when you are starting your research, because they provide:

  • general background information
  • brief and factual overviews
  • explanations of terminology and definitions of terms
  • a list of authors who are experts in the field
  • bibliographies of sources for further reading

Exercise time!

Find an article on your topic in one of our reference resources. Pick any two sources suggested in the bibliography and use the Find Books and Find Articles tabs to locate them. A good reference article will lead you to other useful material on your topic. If you find yourself stuck, ask a librarian!

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is an online resource that can be edited by anyone who has access to the internet.

It has been subject to much criticism by librarians and faculty in academia because:

  • there are no guarantees that the writer(s) of the articles are qualified to write about the subject matter
  • there is the real possibility that the author(s) could post misleading information
  • the lack of any quality controls of the content in Wikipedia (i.e. fact-checking)

Wikipedia does have its good points:

  • the content in Wikipedia is updated on a continual basis
  • it does provide introductory information to a topic
  • the bibliographies at the end of the articles can point readers to genuinely authoritative resources

Because of its open nature most librarians and scholars have reservations about Wikipedia.

If you decide to use any resources found in a Wikipedia bibliography you should make sure that that resource is authoritative.

For more information on assessing online resource, please see the "Evaluating a Website" page.