Encyclopedias contain short, factual entries by contributors with expertise on the topic. There are two types of encyclopedias: general and subject. General encyclopedias contain concise overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias provide in-depth entries focused within a single field of study. Encyclopedias are an excellent place to start your research.
find background information and gather important dates, names, and concepts.
learn more about an issue to help broaden or narrow your topic.
find definitions relevant to your topic.
Scholarly or Popular?
Encyclopedia entries will not usually meet your instructor's definition of a scholarly source, but they are often written by experts in the field, especially subject encyclopedias and may lead you to other scholarly sources through the bibliography or references.