Reference sources are useful when you are starting your research for background information on a subject or an issue. As you continue your research, they can be used to define new terms or concepts. Wikipedia, while not generally accepted as appropriate for citing in bibliographies, is very useful for general information and for narrowing down topics.
Subject-specific dictionaries and encyclopedias can provide you with an introduction to the topic you are researching. To locate appropriate sources, consult the libguide most relevant to your topic.