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English 102 - Joyce: Background & Reference Sources

Encyclopedias & Background Sources

Research Methods

What are background and reference sources?

"Reference sources are authoritative works that help you locate information about people, facts, and ideas. These sources can help you find the date of an important event, major achievements of an individual or organization, or a definition of a term or concept. These books are often used to find specific facts, rather than written to be read cover-to-cover..."

Source: Research Like a Librarian blog

Do I need to cite background and/or reference sources?

In short, no.

Background and reference sources tend to cover two kinds of information-- historical overviews and common knowledge-- that you don't need to cite. For more information on this, please see

Always check with your instructor if you have any doubts about what to cite!