Minneapolis Institute of Art pieceCredit: footloose

Various research libraries and dictionary use for research is discussed in Beginners Guide to Research - Part 1. This article will inform about thesaurus use, encyclopedia use, and other research tips. Eventually a "professional" feel comes to researchers from using the many sources, and the added bonus of topic determination is made easier. The more often the sources are queried the easier research becomes.

The Online Etymology Dictionary has  this citation for thesaurus: 1823, "treasury, storehouse," from L. thesaurus "treasury, treasure," from Gk. thesauros "a treasure, treasury, storehouse, chest," from root of tithenai "to put, to place." The meaning "encyclopedia filled with information" is from 1840, but existed earlier as thesaurarie (1590s), used as a title by early dictionary compilers. Meaning "collection of words arranged according to sense" is first attested 1852 in Roget's title. Thesaur is attested in M.E. with the meaning "treasure" (15c.-16c.).

It is simply, words collected in terms of their meanings. The word groupings are unlimited, more wide ranging to represent some part of a general concept. It is not a synonym book.

A thesaurus should go hand in hand with a dictionary when research is used in one's work. Some of them even have a section that has the direct opposite of the word researched. Also, many online dictionaries include similar words at the end of the definition. An online thesaurus may be updated more frequently than printed ones, so it is smart to check for the most current edition if using a printed thesaurus.

Writing papers gets more exciting with thesaurus use because other appropriate words that fit enhances the writing rather than using the same word over and over. It also helps to adjust the tone of the writing to be more effective.

Speech writing can also be enhanced with thesaurus use. Using similar words to convey the message will hold the attention of the listeners without losing the topic message. It gives a stronger connection to the audience and a greater understanding of the topic.

Thesaurus use leads to new research ideas, especially for a confusing topic. By looking up the main idea and finding new words to use, it may take one in a different direction.

Poets use the thesaurus for creating stronger poems and getting new words to connect to their main topic.

Using the thesaurus for finding the meaning of a word is very helpful too. Other words that relate to the looked up word can then be used.

Finally, when rewriting a paper or article, new words added in can bring a strong, exciting, and effective result.

Art piece DescriotionCredit: footloose

Alphabetically arranged topics with basic information about each one listed is the definition of an encyclopedia. The word "basic" is a limiting factor for encyclopedia research, but there is a way to find out more. First, determine a topic to research. If it is a certain dog, like a Golden Retriever, than start with "dogs," instead. This will help to get a bigger picture of the topic.

Another con for using an encyclopedia is that information changes. So one must find a current encyclopedia. The pro to this is that many online encyclopedias are constantly updated so it is easy to find relevant information. Libraries offer current copies of encyclopedias, like Encyclopedia Britannica. Cyberspace encyclopedias include; Britannica.com, Encarta, Encyclopedia.com, and of course, Wikipedia.

Some encyclopedias offer great bibliographies at the end of articles. Often relevant items are contained in them and can be used for further background information in a topic researched for a paper or speech.

The arrangement of an encyclopedia is a plus because topics arranged alphabetically have a table of content or an index which makes it easy to find the topic. This allows for skimming the pages and it is always a fun way to find even more interesting and sometimes connected topics. The information may include pictures, charts and /or maps. This way the researcher can learn the overview of the larger topic and find out more about the narrowed down topic, the specific dog.

One great tip is to look at the encyclopedia bibliography to find other resources.

Almanacs are collections of information about events that happened in a certain year. This means that they are published yearly! The variety of topics includes current information and statistics on the topics. They allow for the relevant factor of a topic because the almanac facts show why the event is worth mentioning or discussing.

It's nice to be able to refer to the past records of weather for instance, the recorded research can show true historical changes or similarities. The Farmer's Almanac is one example of a way to talk about the past.

If you are looking for a quirky, little known fact about a topic, most likely you can find it in an almanac and draw interest from your audience quickly. Also, a specific historical event researched in an almanac gives an understanding of what was happening worldwide during that time. This information can add to the research.

These are also available online (Google Maps). Once again, these are updated more frequently than paper versions. Commonly used atlases are; Rand McNally Road Atlas, Atlas of the World (latest edition), and the New Concise World Atlas. Book form atlases are designed to lay flat and viewed in that way.

Some of the information found in an atlas:

  • earthquakes
  • politics
  • religions
  • aquatic life
  • natural resources
  • borders, city, country names
  • population counts
  • climate.

The particular place being researched (like Lourdes, France) can be seen at it's particular point in the world, and what it is in relationship to.  An interesting point is how the borders of countries have changed, and how the changes have affected the region.

These are a few of the many research tools available today. Keep in mind that speaking with professionals, hobbyists, specialized librarians, and others is another tool to use. Attending the museum, lecture, observatory, or other source is a great research tool too. Remember, you are the researcher for your article, speech, discussion, panel, whatever, and there is no limit to the amount of research tools available. Happy researching!