Skip to main content

Reference Sources in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Biographies, book reviews, dictionaries, directories, dissertations, encyclopedias, news and newspapers, polls, and style manuals. See individual subject guides for more specialized, subject-specific reference sources.

What Is a Reference Source?

Reference materials provide well-researched information—for example, facts, definitions, histories, overviews of a topic, statistics—on a large subject area (e.g., sociology or dance) or for a type of data (e.g., biographies or directories). They pack lots of information into one easy-to-find place, and support student research in a number of ways:

  • Quick access to simple, reliable, factual information in sources such as dictionaries, polls, and biographies.
  • General overviews and introductions to fields and terms you may not be familiar with in sources such as encyclopedias and topical guidebooks.
  • Referral to additional information sources that offer more detail or lead to journal articles and other kinds of materials, such as subject-specific indexes and encyclopedias.

Many reference works are available online and are accessible through links from the Library Catalog and from subject or course guides, but many valuable reference resources are still available only in print. Because print-only reference books are in high demand, they are kept in the separate, non-circulating Reference collection in most UCLA libraries.

What Reference Source Should I Use?

To unlock the content of the Library's extensive reference collections, try searching the source below.

Connect from Off-Campus or via Wireless On-Campus

Most of the links on these pages go to subscription sources which are accessible from any computer on campus. All campus wireless networks (eduroam, UCLA_WIFI, or UCLA_WEB) provide access to online subscription content.

UCLA students, faculty, and staff can access these sites from off-campus using either the Bruin Online Proxy Server (a simple setting in your browser) or the UCLA VPN Client (a program you install on your computer). To set up an iPAD, follow the instructions for the iPhone. You can also get access through UCLA mobile.

[NOTE: If you are using a Mac, you may need to use Chrome or Firefox, not Safari, to read some of the pdf material.]