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Informational Speech Project

Encyclopedias and Reference Books / eBooks

START HERE: These resources provide essential background information - who, what, when, where, why, how

  • Britannica Academic contains the complete Encyclopedia Britannica plus authoritative websites and full-text journal access. 
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library Search hundreds of reference books all at the same time in the GVRL.
  • Salem Health A reference database which includes the complete content of several print reference sets. Choose any number of these sets to search simultaneously.
  • Salem History A reference database which includes the complete content of Great Lives from History and Great Events from History and other print reference sets. Choose any number of these sets to search simultaneously.
  • Salem Science Includes the complete content of several print reference sets, including the Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues. Choose any number of these sets to search simultaneously.
  • Additionally, a number of other databases contain reference articles (see Taft Online Subscription Databases below).

Taft Online Subscription Databases

  • Explora  Searches multiple databases all at once for topics in current news, history, health, science, and more. 
  • Current issues databases:
    • Global Issues in Context News, perspectives, video, reference, country information, primary source documents, and statistics on issues of global importance.
    • Issues & Controversies Provides exclusive, extensive coverage of hundreds of today's hot topics, with unbiased analysis and rich related resources.
    • Opposing Viewpoints in Context Pro/con viewpoint articles, reference content, full-text magazines, academic journals, and newspapers, primary source documents, statistics, and links to web sites.
    • Sirs Knowledge Source General reference database containing thousands of full-text articles and other resources. Includes a pro/con issues database and SIRS Government, a comprehensive resource for the study of all aspects of U.S. federal government, including government.
  • Some more useful databases to look at:
    • Biography in Context Biographies of more than 650,000 individuals, including the full-text of Current Biography magazine 1940 - current.
    • Country Reports More than 35,000 pages of cultural, historical and statistical information content on the countries of the world.
    • Health and Wellness Resource Center Up-to-date reference material as well as full-text magazines, journals, and pamphlets from a wide variety of authoritative medical sources.
    • Science in Context Topic overviews, experiments, biographies, and links to quality websites, as well as coverage of the latest scientific developments in over 200 magazines and academic journals.
    • U.S. History in Context Comprehensive collection of reference sources, primary documents, periodicals, maps and multimedia.
    • World History in Context Comprehensive collection of reference sources, primary documents, periodicals, maps and multimedia.

RhinoCat to find books on your topic

The Library's RhinoCAT is our automated catalog of print and electronic books, DVDs, and other library materials. It is available from any browser at A keyword or keyword phrase search will yield the most hits.

TIPS: When you identify a book in RhinoCat that sounds useful, click on Browse shelf to find additional books for your research project. And to find books available in ebook format, include the keyword "electronic" in your search.


Wikipedia's general disclaimer: "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields."

  • To find reliable websites:
    • Sweetsearch, a Search Engine for Students searches only credible websites approved by research experts. Note: Ignore first group of results labeled Ad 
    • Britannica Academic includes links to recommended websites.
    • Limit your search to reliable domains by including the phrase site:gov OR site:edu : gov for U.S. government agencies and edu for educational institutions in the U.S.                                                        

*For more information on finding high quality websites, see Find and Evaluating Websites.

Your Bibliography

A statement from MIT Libraries on why we cite our sources: To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information. To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas. To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors. To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way of footnotes, a bibliography or reference list.

You can use Bibme, an electronic citation generator, to create your MLA citations. Note: Most of our Online Subscription Databases provide a citation you can copy and paste into your bibliography if your teacher says you may do this.

  • To cite encyclopedia and reference source articles: under Other choose Encyclopedia article and Manual entry mode. Choose In print or Online database.
  • To cite a book, click on Book and choose Manual entry mode.
  • To cite a website, click on Website and choose Manual entry mode to get started.
  • To cite a journal article, click on Journal and choose Manual entry mode to get started. Choose Online database
  • For source types other than Journal, Website, Book, and Video, choose Other.
  • To cite sources found in a Taft Online Subscription Database (Biography in Context, for example): choose Other and Online database. From the drop-down list next to Source Type, select the type of source you wish to cite (for example, newspaper article).

Tip: Create your citations and save them in a Word document or a Google Doc. You can add more sources to your bibliography by copying and pasting the new citations into your existing bibliography.