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ELISE | Informing your studies: Subject dictionaries, encyclopedias and thesauri


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Search for dictionaries and encyclopedias on your topic in the Library collection:

Tip  e.g. for a definition of fascism, search using a broader subject term such as politics

What is a thesaurus?

Many databases include a thesaurus where the subject terms they contain are arranged.

Tip  Search for your keywords in the thesaurus to find more effective search terms as well as broader and narrower terms. This is particularly useful if the terms you are using in your search are not retrieving suitable resources.

Tip  Using a thesaurus can also help identify synonyms and spelling used in the database. 

Why use subject dictionaries and encyclopedias?

Subject dictionaries and encyclopedias can help you find:

  • definitions of key concepts
  • broad overviews of a topic you are unfamiliar with 
  • alternative subject terms for database searching

See a selection of subject dictionaries and encyclopedias in your area in the boxes below.


Social sciences & economics

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