Table of Contents
Reference sources can be a good source of preliminary information on a topic and a means to collect useful keywords. They also often contain bibliographies that cite key texts and thinkers associated with a specific topic. The online resources listed here are a small sample of the reference materials Stanford has to offer; many are in print form and can be found by searching SearchWorks, physically browsing the libraries' reference areas, or consulting a librarian.
Tips for using reference sources:
1. Look at the cross-references that many entries provide. These can be helpful in pointing you toward a related or more accurate idea/term.
2. One of the most important elements of any good reference source entry is its bibliography. Take note of the books or articles that the entry's author deems elementary to understanding the individual or idea.
Suggested online reference sources:
In the academic world the term “database” usually refers to specific resources that retrieve items—usually from the periodical literature—not usually listed in a library’s online catalog. Databases are typically oriented toward specific subjects, and therefore they can go into far more specificity than Stanford's own online catalog (SearchWorks/Socrates) can. While journal articles are the most common items to be included in databases, many also include citations (i.e., listings for and descriptions of) for book and exhibition reviews and for chapters or essays within anthologies.
Tips for using databases:
2. After selecting a relevant database, treat your search similarly to how you would search in SearchWorks. Most databases are structured in essentially the same way, though often with their own proprietary sets of keywords and subject headings.