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The Research Paper

Encyclopedias and Reference Books / eBooks for background information on your topic

About Wikipedia Please read Wikipedia's article on Academic use

  • Britannica Academic Online The complete Encyclopedia Britannica regularly updated by experts and scholars, and includes links to recommended websites.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library includes hundreds of reference books that can be searched individually or all together. Many are also available in print at the Taft library.
  • Infobase eBooks includes hundreds of reference books that can be searched individually or all together. Many are also available in print at the Taft library.
  • Salem History includes all books in Great Lives from History and Great Events from History which are also available in print at the Taft library (see below)

RhinoCat to find secondary sources

The Library's RhinoCat is our automated catalog of print and non-print books, DVDs, and other library materials. It is available from any browser at A keyword search using a broad term 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, click on advanced search and include the keyword "electronic" in your search.

Primary Sources

See the course guide Finding Primary Sources for Tips for Finding Primary Sources in Rhinocat and other ways to locate documents in our library and online.

Taft Online Subscription Databases

  • For primary sources:
  • For journal articles:
    • Academic Search Complete Access full-text articles in thousands of magazines and journals. Tip: Refine your results list using options in the left sidebar, including full text, date range, source types, and more
    • JSTOR Hundreds of full-text scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, and sciences, many dating back to the 19th century.


  • See Find and Evaluating Websites for how to locate quality websites in our library and online.
  • From Wikipedia's article on Academic use: "Wikipedia is not a reliable source for academic writing or research." 

To find reliable websites:

  • SweetSearch, A Search Engine for Students searches only credible websites approved by research experts. 
  • Britannica Academic Online includes links to recommended websites.
  • Limit your search to the domain .gov for U.S. government agencies and the domain .edu for educational institutions in the U.S. by including the phrase site:gov OR site:edu                                                                  

To find primary sources on the internet, include the phrase documents OR "primary sources" in your search.

Tip Add the phrase site:gov OR site:edu to limit your results to .gov and .edu domains.


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 citations. Chicago-Turabian is the preferred style for history research papers. 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 for print books or Online database for electronic sources like the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  • To cite a secondary source book, choose Book and Manual entry mode. Choose In print for a print book or Online database for an ebook in a library database like ABC-Clio eBooks Collection.
  • To cite a primary source document: What kind of document is it? A newspaper or magazine article? A letter or a speech? Or another kind of document? Under Other, choose the document type. Choose In print for a document found in a print book, Online for a document found on a website, or Online database for a document found in a library database like The Times (London) 1785-2012.
  • To cite a journal article, click on Journal and choose Manual entry mode to get started. Choose Online database.
  • To cite a website, choose Website and Manual entry mode.

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.