Reference tools can help you at every stage of your research. Use them to get an overview of central issues, better understand the context your are researching, and to gather more in-depth information. Good starting points include: Biographies, Book, Film and Theatre Reviews, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Statistics and Data Sets.
"Dissertations and theses reflect the quality and breadth of original graduate research at universities, and are often the first form in which scholarly insights and the results of focused experiments appear. They reveal trends of interest, the rigor of particular departments and institutions, and the creativity of researchers whose influence is still unknown."
-Center for Research Libraries