Reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias are great ways to get background information on your topic. Looking up your topic can get you biographical or historical information, general concepts, lists of works, and related terms depending on your topic.
The type of information you gather from reference sources is seldom the kind of critical analysis your professors are looking for in your papers. Use reference sources to become familiar with your topic so that you can search smarter when you look for books and articles. You should generally refrain from using them in your papers. Situations vary, so if you're unsure, check with your instructor.
Image copyright Julie Ann Johnson, used under the terms of a CC BY 2.0 license.
This guide is designed to help you get started on your research in English Literature. Use the tabs above to find articles, books, and librarian-approved websites. Feel free to contact me directly (see boxes to right) if you have any questions or want to set up an appointment to meet for more help.