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SSI1-132: Wild Things: Tertiary Sources

Getting Started with Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and overviews are scholarly, tertiary works written by experts on a variety of topics. An hour spent with one or more subject encyclopedias early on in the research process will save you hours of wasted time! The background information provides a good starting point as you begin the research process. Articles in subject encyclopedias are written by scholars who have deep specialization in the topic and the articles themselves go through a stringent editing process.  Here's what subject encyclopedias provide:

  • broad overview of a topic that is more in-depth than in general encyclopedias
  • Discussion of how scholars have approached, explored, and debated the topic over time (historiography)
  • words, phrases, names, dates, and events that can be used as keywords when searching a database
  • bibliographies in articles to find other sources (both primary and secondary)
  • cross-references to find related topics

In Collins Library, the print reference collection is located on the first floor, and most of the online reference collection is available in one of the database collections listed on the right.  Use Primo to identify subject encyclopedias in either format; or ask a librarian for recommendations.

Featured Subject Encyclopedias

You'll find it helpful to consult these reference materials as you work through the course readings and work on your research projects. Start with the subject encyclopedias listed below and branch out as needed.

The following print encyclopedias are available on the first floor of Collins Library.

Online Subject Encyclopedia Collections

Not sure where to look?  Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Need Help?

This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you. If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!

Katy Curtis, Humanities Librarian
email: kcurtis@pugetsound.edu
Schedule an appointment
tel: (253) 879-3672
office: Collins Library 140

If you can't find Katy, remember there are several ways to get help with your research

For immediate assistance, connect to our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat service.