Research Starting Points

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 service disruption.

Before starting a search, remember to do "pre-research" to better understand your research context, to narrow down a research topic, and to find synonyms for your search keywords.


Remember that your professors will usually not consider Wikipedia a valid source for you to cite in your assignments.

But... you can still use Wikipedia as a beginning step to

  • help decide on a topic
  • become familiar with a topic and the vocabulary used to talk about this topic
  • get easy to understand definitions of academic words and phrases 

Watch our short video on Using Wikipedia Wisely:


Academic Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias and reference handbooks that the library has in the collection are good academic sources to start your research. They can help to narrow down your topic, or understand new words. The library has access to some databases that contain multiple academic encyclopedias.

You can use these databases by searching for a key word or topic idea in the main search box, or you can choose a subject-focused encyclopedia in the collection to search or browse through.

Other Starting Points

You can find more help with starting your research in the library subject guides.

Content last reviewed: July 6, 2020