Skip to main content

Online Reference Resources: Finding and using resources

A brief guide to online reference resources

Reference resources such as almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopediae and thesauri etc. are a quick and easy way to:

  • examine facts and statistics about the world
  • decipher abbreviations and definitions
  • gain an overview of a topic                                           

They can be really useful resources as you begin your background research into a topic, before you move on to more in depth research via your Subject databases.

The availability of these resources in online format has made discovery a much quicker and easier process.

You can search online to discover the material you need, instead of wading through printed indexes and multi volume printed works. Printed reference works were traditionally for use within the library online. Online reference works are available to you 24/7 from wherever you login. 

Finding and Using Reference Resources

This guide covers general online reference works. The more specialist subject reference works are flagged via your Subject LibGuides 

For example, you will find details about the major legal encyclopedia, "Halsbury's Laws of England", and other specialist legal reference resources on the Law LibGuide.  And you will find details about the New Pauly Online encyclopedia of the ancient world on the Classics and Ancient History Libguide.

Use the Dictionary/Encyclopedia and the Reference Works database type listings in the Databases A-Z list to view all the major reference source that are available to you, and use Library Search to find specific reference titles, such as 

A selection of key free reference sources are also highlighted via this guide.

  • The key online resources flagged here provide access to a wide range of reference works across many different subject disciplines.
  • You can examine a particular work in detail, or search across a range of different reference works to find content on your topic of interest.
  • These are a great starting point for your research if you need to explore unfamiliar concepts or research areas.

Oxford Reference Online contains works spanning these subject areas / categories

 

 

Use Library Search to find reference resources of interest.    The Catalogue tab results will show you print and online titles of interest.

Just add dictionary or encyclopedia and your topic to see what is available. For example; language dictionaryfrench dictionarylegal encyclopedia, quotation dictionary

Online support is available for Library Search.

Library Search

 

Library Search Example

Search for energy encyclopedia in Library Search and view the Catalogue tab results.

A mix of print and online titles are available.

Key Online Language Dictionaries

Free Language Resources

Cambridge Dictionary: A mixture of free and subscription resources. Various language dictionaries are freely available. 

Collins dictionary: Free online resource. Includes dictionaries for Enfgish or bilingual word reference for various languages plus thesauri.

Dictionary.com: Free online dictionary. Thesaurus also available as well as a free mobile app. The Random House unabridged dictionary is the foundation of this resource.

Merriam-Webster dictionary online: Free access to longstanding US dictionary and thesaurus service

You can Use Library Search to search and discover whether you have access to a particular language dictionary. 

Library Search

Latin Dictionary Search Example

Search for latin dictionary in Library Search and view the Catalogue tab results.

A mix of print and online titles are available.  These results have been limited to online titles only

You may come across references to key people/names in your research.

If these names are unfamiliar you can use the online biographical resources to find out more about their life and works and their contribution to history and society

People / Biography Resources

You may need to explore key facts and figures about a country.  For example you may want to look at a country's or region's:

  • size
  • climate
  • population demographics
  • political scene 
  • key industries and productivity.

Key Resources

Also take a look at the Statistics LibGuide and explore the Business LibGuides

Legal Dictionaries

You can use Library Search to discover online and print legal dictionary titles available you you. 

The majority of the print legal dictionaries are shelved at KL 40 in the Law Library Reference Section - Bay 1 in the Law Library.

Examples include:

Specialist Reference Works

As well as general reference works you will reference works which focus on particular legal topics or disciplines. Examples include the following.  There are many more! Library Search will help you to find these

Halsbury's Laws of England

The encyclopedia is arranged alphabetically by topic and provides up to date commentary and links to relevant caselaw and legislation.

The online version via Lexis makes it easy for you to follow through references to relevant case law, legislation and commentary.

It also makes it easy to search for topics that straddle a range of legal areas.

The multi volume print version is also available for quick reference in Bay 1 of the Law Library.

undefined

 

Wikipedia is a free online collaborative encyclopedia.

Launched in 2001, it has grown in popularity and become one of the most visited websites on the internet, with millions of visitors every month.

To find out more about this resource, including discussion of its value as a research resource, take a look at the Wikipedia LibGuide.

Loading ...
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Contact Us