Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

AAA PLEASE DO NOT ERASE--Essential stuff and mapped boxes for other guides - Unpublished: Reference: Topic Overviews & More

info for faculty mapped to all other guides

What Is a Reference Source?

A reference source is a work used for looking up specific information.

Purpose: Reference works are typically used to look up specific information, and are generally not read from cover to cover like a novel.

Scope: Reference works usually present broad information overviews and/or quick summaries with limited detailed analysis. Some reference books cover broad topics, such as a dictionary of English language, while others cover more focused topics, such as a dictionary of transportation logistics terminology.

Format: Reference works are available in print, media, and electronic format.

Organization: Reference works are arranged in a specific order (such as alphabetical, chronological, topical, etc.) and/or provide tools (indices, hyperlinks, cross-references, etc.) to help the user find information efficiently.

Reference: Topic Overviews & More

The research databases below are best for topic overviews, background info, brief facts, statistics, definitions, etc. from subject-specific and general encyclopedias, textbooks, dictionaries, and other reference sources. They cover a broad array of topics, and may also include additional resources beyond reference materials.

Academic World Book
Academic World Book is a comprehensive reference tool that includes encyclopedia, multimedia, e-book, and primary source databases, fully integrated in a single search. Research tools, including Research Portfolio, Citation Builder, dictionary, and guides help users compile information and develop ideas for research assignments.

Credo Reference
Credo Reference's authoritative content covers every major subject, from art to medicine, psychology to history, and technology to literature. The award-winning titles in Credo Reference include general and subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographies, bibliographies, chronologies, handbooks, atlases, and more. Credo's collections are continuously updated to reflect the most relevant, up-to-date content.

CultureGrams World Edition
CultureGrams World Edition contains reports on more than 200 countries and cultures, focusing on twenty-five categories including history, personal appearance, gestures, family, economy, and more. Statistical tables and an extensive glossary make the World Edition perfect for student projects, research, and more.

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Gale Virtual Reference Library offers students, researchers and professionals a wide variety of full-text interdisciplinary content on virtually any subject area to tackle their assignments, papers, projects and presentations. The database includes thousands of full-text proprietary titles from Gale and more than 80 strategic publishing partners.

General Reference Center
General Reference Center provides access to magazines, newspapers, and reference books through one easy interface. This general interest database offers the latest content covering current events, popular culture, the arts and sciences, sports, hobbies, and more.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
America’s largest, most comprehensive dictionary is revised for today’s students, teachers, and librarians. With updated vocabulary, enhanced content, a fresh modern layout, and exciting new features, Merriam-Webster Unabridged is an essential source of information on the English language.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context
Opposing Viewpoints in Context is the premier online resource covering today’s hottest social issues, from offshore drilling to climate change, healthcare to immigration. Opposing Viewpoints in Context helps students research, analyze and organize a broad variety of data for conducting research, completing writing assignments, preparing for debates, creating presentations and more.

Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words, past and present, from across the English-speaking world. This historical dictionary traces the history of individual words—and of the English language—through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to films scripts and cookery books.

World Book Complete
A single link that goes to all 11 Traveler World Book database consisting of Early World of Learning, Kids, Student, Info-finder, Advanced, Reference Center, Timelines, e-books, Academic, Discover and Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos.

World Data Analyst
Britannica's World Data Analyst features a rich trove of current and historical statistics on the countries of the world makes historical and cross-national comparisons easy. World Data Analyst offers easy access to printable country maps and statistics such as area, population, demographic and vital statistics, gross national product, and more. Users can compare different countries on economic and population measures or get information on significant geographic features such as highest mountains and largest deserts.

Research Smarter Tips

Need Help?

Call Us: 479-619-3154
Text Us: 479-802-0570

Make a Research Appointment

Questions & Comments

What Is a Reference Source?

A reference source is a work used for looking up specific information.

Purpose: Reference works are typically used to look up specific information, and are generally not read from cover to cover like a novel.

Scope: Reference works usually present broad information overviews and/or quick summaries with limited detailed analysis. Some reference books cover broad topics, such as a dictionary of English language, while others cover more focused topics, such as a dictionary of transportation logistics terminology.

Format: Reference works are available in print, media, and electronic format.

Organization: Reference works are arranged in a specific order (such as alphabetical, chronological, topical, etc.) and/or provide tools (indices, hyperlinks, cross-references, etc.) to help the user find information efficiently.


  • Burns Hall 1304
    1 College Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712
  • Call: 479-619-4244 | Text: 479-802-0570
  • About Us
  • Check us out on Facebook Watch us on YouTubeEmail Us