What is a reference work?
A reference source (print or online) is organized for quick access (e.g., alphabetically, by date, by geographic region) to brief information, statistics or maps.
The title may include a word like:
Tip: While it may be used for reference, a textbook is usually cited as a book.
How do I evaluate contributors to a reference source?
A reference source is usually compiled by many people. Look for procedures that encourage contributors to produce quality work:
If contributors are identified, their expertise and credentials should relate to your subject. A credible author or subject editor might:
How do I evaluate an entry's objectivity?
A reference work provides a balanced view of a topic.
How do I evaluate an entry's currency?
If current information is important to understanding your topic, check the following:
Corroborate: Fact-check the content in media that tend to be current (e.g., news, blogs, magazines, and web pages).
How do I fact-check a quote?
Quotes are typically hard to verify. A quotation database may provide the author but not the source of a quote. The quote may be incorrectly worded or attributed to the wrong person.
Search inside an author's published books to verify a quote.
How do I evaluate a Wikipedia entry?
Wikipedia's goal is to compile a free encyclopedia of all human knowledge written from a neutral point of view:
Use tools to judge the article's quality:
For other suggestions on how to evaluate Wikipedia, see the Knowledge Base article "How do I evaluate Wikipedia?"
How do I cite a reference book?
For a print reference book, use the title page first, and then the copyright page (not the cover or jacket), to find:
How do I cite an article in a reference e-book?
A reference e-book is a static copy of a print book. Gather the facts of publication from:
How do I cite a reference database?
A reference database is continually being revised and updated. Gather citation elements from: