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Why Reference Works?
Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:
- Getting an overview of a topic
- Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
- Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
- Learning the key works on a given topic
- Discovering the key authors on a given topic
Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).
Online Subject Encyclopedias
Scholarly subject encyclopedias provide in-depth information about a specific topic. Entries or articles, written by scholars or subject experts, include bibliographies or suggested readings that will lead to more information on your topic.
Use subject encyclopedias for basic background reading, to find a topic, or to identify keywords in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
Search for Subject Encyclopedias (PSU Only)
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
Encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background information on a variety of topics. Those
with a call number starting with REF are on the 2nd floor and all others
are in the stacks by their call number. Anything without a call number
is an electronic resource.
Planning and Urban Design Standards/ American Planning Association ; Emina Sendich, graphics editor.
TH2031 .P55 2006 | 2nd floor
Ramsey/Sleeper Architectural Graphic Standards
TH2031 .R35 | 5th Floor
Oxford Art Online
Includes full text of the Grove 34-volume encyclopedia, The Dictionary of Art, which contains scholarly articles on the visual arts from prehistory to the present day.
The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)
The AAT is a structured vocabulary of around 125,000 terms, scope notes, and other information for describing fine art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, and material culture. (Copyright held by the J. Paul Getty Trust)
The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)
The TGN is a structured vocabulary of around 1,000,000 geographic names, including vernacular and historical names, coordinates, and place types, and focusing on places important for the study of art and architecture. (Copyright held by the J. Paul Getty Trust)
Oxford Reference Online
Contains full text subject encyclopedias, reference works, dictionaries, and handbooks in all disciplines.
The Elements of Style, a Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details from 1485 to the Present
NA2850 .E44 1996 | 2nd Floor
Encyclopedia of Architecture: Design, Engineering, & Construction
Edited by Joseph A. Wilkes & Robert T. Packard, 4 vols.
NA31 .E59 1988 | 2nd Floor
Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, 3 vols.
NA208 .E53 1997 | 2nd Floor
Encyclopedia of World Art
Edited by Bernard S. Myers, 17 vols.
N31 .E533 | 2nd Floor
Bibliographies point you to the key works on specific subjects.
CumInCAD is a cumulative index of publications about computer aided architectural design. It includes bibliographic information about over 10,000 records from journals and conferences such as ACADIA, ASCAAD, CAADRIA, eCAADe, SiGraDi, CAAD futures, DDSS and others.
RIBA British Architectural Library Catalogue Online
The catalogue is an index to articles in over 300 of the world's most respected architectural periodicals, details of books and audio visual materials acquired by the RIBA Library|, including information on books available for loan to RIBA members.
The Burnham Index to Architectural Literature
Based on the holding of the Burnham Library of Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago, this index covers the field of architecture going back to 1919. Overlap with the Avery Index is less than 3% before 1934 and 30% after that date.