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Reference & Research Aids

BROWSE these pages for reference works like bibliographies, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. Use these resources to become familiar with key works and scholarly trends. 

Finding Reference Works



  • Reference books may be found in many locations. Be sure to double-check the catalog record since copies of a work may be available in the History of Science Collections, in Bizzell or a branch library, and/or as an eBook. 
  • When searching for reference works in the online catalog use terms like: "encyclopedia"/"guide"/"dictionary"/ "bibliography" 
  • You can search for eReference works by browsing under the E-Reference Materials tab (the tab next to the "Databases" tab as you search the A-Z list of databases).
  • Remember to look at general reference works and reference books beyond History of Science. See: Reference Materials (by Laurie Scrivener, History/Area Studies Librarian).

Using Reference Books


Can't find an entry on your topic in a reference book? Then check in index at the back.

For example, the encyclopedia Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine does not have a separate entry on "rainbow."  But, in the index you will find citations to pages where the rainbow is discussed:

These page numbers after Rainbow lead you to entries on "Ibn al-Haytham," "Optics and Catoptrics," and "Theodoric of Freiberg"



Science encyclopedias sometimes include historical entries written by prominent historians (for example, see the numerous entries on the history of geology by D. Oldroyd in Encyclopedia of Geology).