Reference works, or reference sources, are materials that tell you about other materials: what was published about this or that topic?
--- Encyclopedias and Handbooks: First address to get professionally acquainted with a research topic. Encyclopedias and Handbooks introduce you to a topic, show you an overall state of research, and the development of research for it. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia contributed to by everyone and everyone with an agenda, so it may be a good first step, but needs to be treated with caution. For encyclopedias please use the "encyclopedias" tab, and for handbooks the "Handbooks" tab from the sub-menu.
-- Bibliographies: These give the "materials on materials" overview. What has been written about a topic so far? What are the most important and influential materials? Bibliographies help you to narrow down your search results to relevant materials properly.
-- Dictionaries: Besides the classical definition of a dictionary, there are also topic-related ones. They explain vocabulary and expressions used in specific research areas or subjects. Very useful if you need specific language in your subject.
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