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.

Research Help

Need more research help? We're here for you.

chat icon  Chat with us online

email icon  Email us your quick questions 

person icon Connect with a subject specialist

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

UCLA students, faculty, and staff can access these sites from off-campus using either the UCLA VPN Client or Bruin Online Proxy Server. If you need help setting up your computer, contact the UCLA IT Support Center at (310) 267-4357 or . They answer the phone 24/7 and are very helpful.

NOTE: All campus wireless networks (eduroam, UCLA_WIFI or UCLA_WEB) provide access to online subscription content. If you are using a Mac, you may need to use Chrome or Firefox, not Safari, to read some of the pdf material.