If you are researching an unfamiliar topic, reference resources can help you orient yourself. They can be very useful when you are narrowing down your research topic.
Reference resources, such as encyclopedias and bibliographies are:
Encyclopedias contain short articles. In addition to general encyclopedias such as the Encyclopædia Britannica, which span human knowledge, there are specialized ones for disciplines such as anthropology.
Example: Encyclopedia of anthropology edited by H. James Birx
Dictionaries also contain articles that are usually listed in alphabetical order. They are similar to encyclopedias, but entries are usually more concise, making them a useful tool for quickly familiarizing yourself with a topic.
Example: International dictionary of films and filmmakers edited by Tom Pendergast and Sara Pendergast.
Bibliographies are lists of sources on a topic that can be useful because they gather relevant books, articles, and other sources in one place.
You can search for anthropology reference resources in Discovery Search using subject headings
What if I don't know what what subject headings are or need a refresher?
You'll want to conduct a subject search with two pieces. The second piece will be the type of reference resource (ex. 'Encyclopedias' or 'Dictionaries'). The first piece will change depending on what the topic that you're interested in. For example:
Anthropology -- Encyclopedias
Archaeology -- Encyclopedias
Indians of North America -- Encyclopedias
Anthropology -- Dictionaries
Sociolinguistics -- Dictionaries
Anthropology -- Bibliography
Physical anthropology -- Bibliography
It can be tricky to know what the standardized subject heading for a concept is unless you refer to the Library of Congress' documents. An alternative is to do a keyword search. When you get results back, you'll be able to look at the subject headings on those records and use those for future subject searches.