"The purpose of an encyclopedia is to summarize and codify knowledge in a given field. This is in contrast to a handbook, which offers essays on cutting-edge research in a field, or a dictionary, which provides short, to-the-point definitions of key concepts in a field."
Source: Sica, A. (2001). Encyclopedias, Handbooks, and Dictionaries. In N.J. Smelser & P.B. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B0-08-043076-7/00039-5. As cited in American Library Association. (2011). ALA Guide to Sociology & Psychology Reference. Chicago: Author.
Use reference materials to find background information. Reference books can help you:
Handbooks provide essays covering recent developments in particular disciplinary sub-topics.
Search for relevant handbooks within a Reference Database (listed below), or in Library Catalog Search by entering the keyword handbook followed by your topic keywords. It may help to search for keywords in the title.
Online reference collections that specifically contain psychology handbooks include:
Topical encyclopedias cover specialized fields that overlap or are closely related to psychological inquiry.
Search for relevant encyclopedias within a Reference Database (listed below) or in Library Catalog Search by entering the keyword encyclopedia, followed by your topic keywords. It may help to search for keywords in the title.
Search across multiple subject specific encyclopedias and handbooks: