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Information Guides for Silberman School of Social Work

City University of New York, Hunter College, Hunter College Libraries

What Are Reference Materials?

Reference materials are information sources which provide definitive, factual, and concrete information. 

Reference articles discuss the foundational knowledge associated with a subject as it has been vetted by the experts in the field.  Reference articles may be used to provide background knowledge written for a general audience; to provide a definition of a concept or theory; to get a quick overview of what is widely accepted as authoritative on the topic.

Reference materials tend to include:

  • Dictionaries (both language and topical)
  • Encyclopedias
  • Bibliographies (lists of resources on a specific topic)
  • Manuals, handbooks, and guides
  • Directories

Primary Reference Works for Social Work