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1.7.1 Reference material

Determine your information  needs
1.1 Define your topic
1.2 Increase familiarity with your topic
1.3 Map your ideas
1.4 Types of assignment
1.5 Amount of information
1.6 Types of sources
1.7 Types of publications
  * 1.7.1 Reference material
  1.7.2 Books
  1.7.3 Journals
  1.7.4 Conference proceedings
  1.7.5 Legislation
  1.7.6 Standards
  1.7.7 Audiovisual material
1.7.8 Web pages
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Reference materials are good starting points for most topics.

Reference materials provide:

  • background or introductory information
  • topic overviews
  • definitions
  • collections of facts
  • statistics and tables of data
  • paths to other sources of information.

Be aware that the titles of reference material may be misleading. For example, dictionaries may be called encyclopaedias and vice versa.

Material Definition: Use to: Examples:
Dictionaries or Encyclopaedias Provide introductory information such as a definition, description, and brief history. Subject specific encyclopaedias concentrate on specific topics within a discipline. Find background or introductory information. MacQuarie Dictionary, International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences,
Grove music online
Almanacs A collection of dates, facts and figures.
Confirm a date, fact or figure. The World almanac and book of facts
Atlases A collection of maps, geographic and/or spatial information. Also a collection of detailed illustrations of human anatomy. Find a map or detailed illustrations of human anatomy. Grant's atlas of anatomy
Biographical sources A collection of essays and profiles of people and their lives. Find personal profiles. Who's who
Contemporary authors
Bibliographies Provide a list of resources on a subject. Find additional materials on a topic. The new Cambridge bibliography of English literature
Directories List associations, institutions, or companies and provide information Locate an organisation or supplier. The good universities guide
Handbooks and manuals Provide basic factual and statistical information including tables, charts and graphs. Often include protocols and procedures. Find properties of substances, laboratory protocols and management procedures. Handbook of psychology online
Year books and annuals An annual collection of facts, photographs or statistics often limited to a particular country or subject discipline. Find statistical data. Yearbook Australia

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