As you begin your research, learning more about fields of study relevant to your focus will help you create more effective searches. The Washington University Libraries own many general and specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries that provide this background information.
Listed below are some general reference sources and databases of encyclopedias and dictionaries.
After gaining basic background from a general encyclopedia, consider looking for more in depth background information in specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias. Reading relevant entries from a subject-specific encyclopedia will provide more sophisticated context, concepts, and vocabulary in given fields, thus helping you expand and refine your search terms.
Look up subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries in the Libraries' Catalog by adding the word "encyclopedias" or "dictionaries" to your keyword search. For example, to find a psychology encyclopedia you could perform the following search in the catalog: