Inform and fine-tune your searching with an encyclopedia
Use encyclopedias to quickly get up to speed on a new topic, or as a starting point in your research process.
Hone your search terms and strategy
Before launching into more advanced searching in the Catalogue or databases, check a general or subject-specific encyclopedia for:
- keywords and names of people you can use when searching other sources
- established facts, an overview of the topic, and general information
- links to related topics and even key resources in the field.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Try this first if you are unsure where to search. Contains over 600 reference sources across a wide range of topics.
Oxford Reference Online
Contains over 250 reference sources. Includes languages, science and medicine, humanities and social sciences, and business and professional topics.
Contains over 250 reference sources. Particularly strong for Criminology, Sociology, and Communications.
Excellent general encyclopedia, with almost 100,000 articles written by experts.
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Great encyclopedia for Canadian topics. Easy to search and browse.
Encyclopedia of British Columbia
Portal for information on British Columbia.
Wikipedia is great for everyday use and can be a good starting point for academic research. However, it must be used cautiously and always supported by scholarly sources.
To learn more about using Wikipedia in an academic setting, watch Using Wikipedia for Academic Research or see Cornell's Using Wikipedia guide.
To find subject-specific encyclopedias:
- enter a keyword search for encyclopedia + your topic in the Library Catalogue
- check the Background information tab in our subject and course guides for sources recommended by subject specialist librarians.