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Reference works provide basic overview articles on various branches of knowledge. They may be general or subject-specific. They are excellent places to begin research on your topic. Although citing reference works is not considered scholarly practice, they can provide general knowledge about your topic, help you develop a thesis, supply you with important keywords for searching, and provide you with citations to important primary and secondary works on the topic.
Some important reference works for the study of literature are linked below. Many additional encyclopedias and dictionaries can be found in the Library Catalog.