Cornell Research Guides
Looking for other subject encyclopedias?
The Gale Reference Library brings together a huge collection of reference sources.
You can also do an advanced search in the Cornell University Library catalog using one or more of these terms:
encyclopedia | guide | handbook
in combination with a broad subject term.
Why start here?
Why use background or tertiary resources?
- It's a quick overview of a theme, work, author, or other topic, which can save you time!
- Learn important terms for searching, identify notable scholars and/or works, and get more information about a topic.
- Bibliographies for further reading in the works cited sections can lead you to secondary sources you can use in the next phase of your research.
Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford Companion to Western Art, and Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms. Includes image partnerships and a digital image search.
Bibliographies on many, many topics (a few pertinent individual titles listed below). Provides introductions to each topic area, and includes guides to introductory works, textbooks, guidebooks, journals, reference works etc., and links to useful websites.
Offers peer-reviewed annotated bibliographies on specific topics in a growing range of subject areas. There are at least 50 specific topical bibliographies in each subject area. Each of these features an introduction to the topic. Bibliographies are browseable by subject area and keyword searchable.
Help from Oxford: Anatomy of an Article
Evaluate your sources
Evaluating the sources you find is a crucial step in the process of scholarly research. The questions you ask about books, periodical articles, or multimedia sources are similar whether you're looking at a citation to the item or have the item in hand.
- How to Critically Analyze Information Sources
Lists some of the critical questions you should ask when you consider the appropriateness of a particular book, article, media resource, or website for your research.
- Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of Criteria.
Shows how to evaluate periodicals by looking at their format, intended audience, and appearance.
- Evaluating Web Resources
Lists ways to analyze the websites you find