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Controversial topics

Resources and tips for researching and writing about issues

What is a 'Reference' resource?

A reference book is one you consult when you need factual, authoritative information on a subject. They are a good place to start if you're just beginning your research because they give you foundational information about a topic.

Reference book examples include:

  • dictionaries
  • encyclopedias
  • almanacs or "fact books"
  • directories

Things to know about Reference books:

  • they may be physical or digital items
  • they have lots of info!
    • in the physical book, look for the Table of Contents or the Index to find the page you need for your subject
  • they're often in a separate section of the library
    • look for the "Reference" section or the "Ready Reference" section near where the librarians sit.

Reference databases