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Information Literacy Tutorial

Our Library's tutorial covers: research skills, critical thinking and information literacy.

Using Reference Information Sources

Reference information sources can be helpful when beginning the research process. They can give you a working knowledge of your chosen subject area.

  • You can gain a broad and general understanding of the topic, or background information.
  • You can learn the important names, key facts, issues and debates, and answers to questions.
  • You can get familiar with the vocabulary of the subject area so you can understand new terminology and formulate good keyword searches.


Dictionaries provide word definitions and other information about words. There are many other types of dictionaries. 

  • A bilingual dictionary translates from one language to another.
  • A thesaurus contains synonyms, and often antonyms, for words.
  • An etymological dictionary contains historical word origins.
  • A subject dictionary is a good source for longer and more in-depth definitions using the vocabulary of a particular area of study.


Encyclopedias provide brief articles explaining a topic. There are general encyclopedias like the Encyclopedia Britannica. There are also subject-specific encyclopedias that provide detailed, advanced and technical content in a particular area of study.

Biographical Resources

Biographical resources contain information about the lives and accomplishments of notable people in various fields of achievement or areas of study. 

Handbooks and Guides

Handbooks and Guides contain detailed, advanced information about a particular subject area. This can include facts about a subject or instructions for operating a device or completing a procedure.