Brandel Library

HIST 1000: Global Themes in History (Clay)

Tertiary Sources / Background Information

What's a Tertiary Source?

Tertiary sources:

  • They survey and organize information on a given topic, without including original research or analysis.
  • They are typically based on secondary sources.
  • You can think of them as overview or background sources.
  • Encyclopedias and specialized dictionaries are the most common tertiary sources you will encounter. 


Online Reference Sources

Print and online reference collections are more reliable substitutes for sources such as Google and Wikipedia. Here is a link to a collection of online reference works. Print reference books are in the Reference Collection on the west side of the first floor of Brandel Library.

Why use reference sources?

Reference sources can help you jumpstart your research project by:

  • providing a quick overview of a topic,
  • identifying key questions that can shape your research,
  • pointing you towards other sources on the topic.

Check the bibliography

Reference sources typically end with a bibliography or works cited, which you can use to find key books and articles on your topic.