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Before You Start ....
Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks or atlases, can provide a great overview. These kinds of materials help you to:
- Learn more about the topic in general or a particular aspect of it
- Locate definitions of concepts, important facts, and key data
- Understand the context, research themes, and theories relevant to your topic
- Discover concepts and related vocabulary
- Identify further readings and ways in which you may focus your topic
Wikipedia is convenient, and can be a place to learn about a new topic, but don't rely on it alone; most Carnegie Mellon University instructors do not accept Wikipedia as a cited source for your assignments.
Tip: The best way to look for materials that can provide you with an over view is to use a broad term, a country's name or a region. Once you type that and the search box, click on the "CAMEO: Library Catalog" tab and select "Reference" (see screen below):
To find more reference sources, use the Advanced Search in the library catalog, and type the type of source (for example, encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks) then select Subject. You can also check our Reference Shelf.
Here are select examples:
Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society by This encyclopedia features 800 entries by 296 authors covering contemporary and historical Chinese topics. The encyclopedia's breadth of coverage and size--2,665 pages in five volumes--distinguish it from competing reference works. The historical and biographical entries cover the full span of Chinese history, although the 19th and 20th centuries receive the fullest coverage, and the encyclopedia devotes substantial coverage to contemporary society, technology, and the environment.
Call Number: Online
Publication Date: 2007-10-19
Encyclopedia of Ethics by Provides critical information on the most populous country and most dynamic trade market in the world: the people, politics, economics, religion, philosophy, traditions, art, and literature of this ancient and enduring civilization are explored from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day.
Call Number: Available Online
Publication Date: 2008-07-03
Modern China by
Call Number: JC311 .M54 1998 (Hunt Library - 2nd floor)
Publication Date: 1997-11-01
This title is also available online
Also, the following reference resources contain background information:
CQ Researcher plus Archive
1923-present. Unbiased research reports on timely topics. Each report provides an introduction, overview, background, current situation, outlook chronology, pro/con, bibliography, etc. Keyword search for additional reports also show links to other relevant reports. Database Guide
Encyclopedias and dictionaries on a wide variety of subjects.
Economic, political and geographic information and statistics for every country in the world.