Research 101: Encyclopedias vs. Databases

Happy New Year, LSS!

Welcome back to the final stretch of Semester 1. Believe it or not, we are down to less than two weeks before our semester change. That means it’s go-time! In the spirit of helping LSS students get. stuff. done. these next two weeks, we’re going to be posting a series of blog posts to help you work through your final projects and assignments. First up: a research refresher on using online encyclopedias & databases in our research. Here we go!

Research 101: Encyclopedias vs. Databases

First things first - do you know the difference between an online encyclopedia and an online database?

They do have some things in common, but there are a few differences worth noting. An online encylopedia has information on many different subjects, and may connect you to other sources of information and related links. Online encyclopedia articles are written by writers who work for that specific encyclopedia.

An online database gathers high-quality information from a wide variety of sources, often from scholarly and academic research publications. A database doesn’t have writers providing information for their website - they gather their information and articles from all over the academic world and make it easily searchable for you!

Take a look at this infographic that compares and contrasts encyclopedias & databases:

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So where can you look to find online encyclopedias and databases? The answer is, of course, your trusty LSS Library research page .

Two online encyclopedias you can use to build your knowledge base and start preliminary research are World Book Online and Encyclopedia Britannica. Both of these encyclopedias have plenty of built-in tools to help you out - especially the citation tools! Ready-made citations available in MLA, APA, Chicago & Harvard make building your reference list or works cited page a breeze.

Here’s how to find the citation generator for Britannica:

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And here’s how to find the citation tool for World Book Online:

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Online encyclopedias are a great place to start your research and starting building a strong base of knowledge on your topic. Ready to dive deeper into your research and tackle databases? Stay tuned for our next blog post: Research 101 - Using Databases.

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