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Basic information

Why use an encyclopdedia:

  • get and overview a topic
  • acquaint yourself with specialized vocabulary
  • find a bibliography that will lead you to more resources. 

Wikipedia is good for getting an overview of a topic and specialized terminology. but the reference and external links generally go to Internet sources, instead of scholarly journal articles and scholarly books. 

The advantage of the encyclopedias in this guide is that when they have references, they cite scholarly works. 
Since the articles in these encyclopedias have been written by experts, they are sending you to the best sources. 

Many of the library's online encyclopedias are found in two collections:

You can search topics search across all the encyclopedias using these links. 

The tabs on the left provide links the most useful encyclopedias categorized by topic. Once connected to the encyclopedia, you can browse by topic. Some encyclopedias have multiple volumes so you have to select the volume you want to browse. 

Another way to locate encyclopedias is Discover@MU.  The search box below sets up a search so you can find them more easily. 

Search Discover@MU for online Encyclopedias
  • Enter the subject of the encyclopedia you want (e.g. biology, physics, mythology) and press the search button.
  • To make your searches more exact, search for the word in the encyclopdia title by putting TI (in upper case) before your search word or you can search for word as a subject heading by putting SU (in upper case) before your search word.  For example:
    • TI biology   This is the narrowest search and gets the fewest results
    • SU biology  This is a broader search and gets more results