Reference Sources on the Internet
What is a Reference Source?
Reference sources are used to obtain a specific answer to a question or to indicate other sources to use during the research process. Although there are several types of reference sources, they all are categorized as either general or specific in scope. This page contains both general and subject specific reference sources. General reference sources will contain a broad range of subject areas whereas subject specific sources have content that is focused in one particular area of study.
If you are looking for more extensive information on a subject, go to one of our Research Guides
How do I Find…
- If a journal is scholarly and/or peer reviewed
- How to cite in my paper or how to format it according to a certain style like APA or MLA
- An overview and background information on a topic and a good lead to other sources
- A quick overview of a country and its development
- What happened on a particular date
- Critics thoughts about a particular book, movie or play
- The spelling of word or how to say something in another language
- Words that have similar meanings
- Information about how to create a résum é and finding job opportunities
- Grants or scholarships
- Which colleges/universities offer a particular program and the entrance requirements
- Information about entrance exams and registration
- The address for a particular person, business or organization
- Information about a certain person’s life and accomplishments
- An abbreviation of a journal name or what NATO stands for
- Who said a particular phrase or expression
- If a certain book is available (somewhere in the world) and in print
An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters or syllables of other words to create a short form for a longer name, for example NATO is a short form for North Atlantic Treaty Organization . An abbreviation is a similar concept the full name of a journal is shortened to save space, for example,Am J Sports Med is short for The American journal of sports medicine.
- Acronym and Abbreviation Server
- Acronym Finder
- All that JAS: Journal Abbreviation Sources
- Legal Case Reporters
- PubMed (restricted to York users)
If you need information about the life of a particular individual, his/her accomplishments and achievements a biographical source is a good choice.
- American National Biography (restricted to York users)
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online)
- Biography and Genealogy Master Index (restricted to York users)
- Current Biography (restricted to York users)
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (restricted to York users)
Career / Employment
The careers and employment section brings together several resources that will assist in job search strategies and applications.
- All Canadian Jobs
- Canadian Jobs (iJive)
- Charity Village
- Human Resources Development Canada
- Human Resources Development Canada – Student
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
Colleges / Universities
The Colleges / Universities section provides information about programs of study and entrance requirements.
If you need a quick overview of a country and its development yearbooks or country reports are a good choice.
- CIA World Factbook
- Europa World Plus (restricted to York users)
- Library of Congress Country Studies
- Political Risk Yearbook (online) (restricted to York users)
- Portals to the World
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
A dictionary contains a lot of words in alphabetical order with their meanings explained or written in another language. Dictionaries also contain information about the form and proper pronunciation of the word. Subject specific dictionaries define terminology and concepts specific to the subject in question.
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online
- Merriam-Webster-Collegiate Dictionary
- OneLook Dictionaries
- Oxford English Dictionary (restricted to York users)
- Oxford Reference Online (restricted to York users)
- Grand Dictionaire Terminologique
- French-English Dictionary [ARTFL]
- Le Petit Robert
- Termium (restricted to York users)
- Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé
- Your Dictionary.com (200+ online dictionaries, multilingual)
See our research guides page.
Directories contain an organized list of names and addresses.
- Associations Canada
- Canadian ISBN Publisher’s Directory
- Directory of OCUL Libraries
- Directory of Special Libraries
- Embassy World
- Reverse Look-up
- Telephone Directories on the Web
- Postal Codes
- Zip Codes
- Area Code Locator for North America
Encyclopedias give background information and overviews of a particular subject person or event. They can be subject specific (e.g. The Columbia Encylopedia of Modern Drama) or general in scope. The subject specific encyclopedias provide background information to a particular subject. They are usually edited by a respected scholar in the field of study and the articles are often written by experts, who give an in-depth overview to a topic. The articles are usually signed and often identify key resources for further reading.
- Britannica Online (restricted to York users)
- Columbia Encyclopedia
- other general encyclopedias
Entrance exams / tests
The entrance exams / tests section provides registration and general information about a selection of tests. Additionally, these sources provide practice questions and strategies for test taking.
- GRE: Graduate Record Examinations
- MCAT – Medical College Admission Tests
- The Educational Testing Service Network
Events / timelines
If you need a map of historical events or want to know when a particular event took place these resources are a good place to start.
- History World
- Facts on File (restricted to York users)
- Keesing’s World News Archive (restricted to York users)
- Social Science History: Time line for the history of Science and Social Science
Grants / scholarships
If you are looking for financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid the following links may be helpful.
- Canada Student Loans Program
- Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
- York OSFS – search scholarships, bursaries, awards and prizes
- York University Scholarships – Graduate study (FGS)
- York University Scholarships – Schulich
Indexes for information about books and journals
Indexes are arranged lists, usually alphabetically or subject related, of information sources (e.g. books, periodicals, etc.). Indexes are created to help users find information that is useful and specific to their topic.
- Ulrich’s International Periodical Index (restricted to York users) The source used to indicate if a journal is scholarly/peer reviewed
- Serials Directory (restricted to York users)
- Books in Print (restricted to York users)
- Worldcat (restricted to York users) The source used to indicate if a book is available (somewhere in the world) and in print
- Canadian Book Trade and Library Index
- Advanced Book Exchange
Quotations / aphorisms / lyrics
The quotations / aphorisms / lyrics section contains sources that allow you to either search for quotes by person /artists or by reverse look-up.
- Aphorisms Galore!
- Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations
- The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (restricted to York users)
- The Quotations Page
The reviews section lists several sources for finding both critical and popular review articles for books, performing arts, and movies. Although only a few sources are listed here, there are several other sources to choose from. For additional sources and information on finding book reviews go to: Guide to Book Reviews
- Book Review Digest (restricted to York users)
- Book Review Index (restricted to York users)
- Booklist (includes Reference Books Bulletin)
- London Review of Books
- New York Times(free registration for individuals)
- New York Times: Movie Review Archive(free registration for individuals)
- New York Times: Theatre Review Archive (free registration for individuals)
- New York Review of Books
- Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE)
- Internet Movie Database
Style / writers’ manuals
These guides will show you how to format your paper and references according to the specific style indicated in the link. Although these sources are excellent tools for reference, the websites may not contain the most recent changes to APA style. For the most recent changes see Changes in the 5th edition.
A thesaurus is a reference tool used to look up words with similar meanings.