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Background & Overviews
Tertiary sources, such as subject encyclopedias and textbooks, are excellent starting points in your research. Use them to find:
- Helpful overviews of key facts: who? what? when?
- Bibliographies of especially key scholarly works.
- Identification of important primary sources.
- Brief descriptions of main scholarly arguments: how? why?
At Collins Library, you can access subject encyclopedias in a variety of formats: print, ebook, or via larger digital collections.
Print encyclopedias are located on the first floor of the library, across from the Learning Commons. An example:
Online encyclopedias can be accessed via PRIMO, the library's discovery platform. An example:
Large digital collections of subject encyclopedias can be accessed via several publisher-based platforms:
ABC CLIO eBooks
This eBook Collection contains encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and guides from ABC-CLIO, Greenwood Press, Libraries Unlimited, and Praeger.
Contains the complete texts of many Oxford companions, encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference titles in a fully indexed, cross-searchable database. Included in addition to articles are images, maps, timelines, bibliographies, photographs and much more.
Provides full text online access to Gale electronic books, including encyclopedias and other reference resources.
The social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press books, reference materials and other content.
BEAM is an acronym intended to help you think about the various ways you might use sources when writing a researched argument. Joseph Bizup, an English professor at Boston University, outlined the framework in a 2008 article. The idea has since been refined and adapted by many others.
The BEAM Framework and Researching/Writing History
Different academic disciplines will value different aspects of sources and how one uses them. The discipline of history privileges the two vowels in the BEAM framework:
EXHIBIT: Historians analyze and interpret primary sources.
ARGUMENT: Historians join a scholarly conversation by placing their analysis and interpretation in dialog with the work of other historians. Historians publish their work in the form of scholarly articles and monographs (scholarly books).
Associate Director for Public Services
Work with a Peer Research Advisor!
Virtual Drop-in Hours
Sunday through Wednesday: 6:30 to 8:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)
We use Google Meet:
Allie and Hannah are also available for individual appointments. Go to our Schedule a Research Appointment page, click the request button, and select either Hannah or Allie from the drop-down menu to see what appointment times they have available.