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The process by which a tribunal sends a civil action, or a particular issue in the action, to an individual who has been appointed by the tribunal to hear and decide upon it, or to obtain evidence, and make a report to the court.



West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

REFERENCE, contracts. An agreement to submit to certain arbitrators, matters in dispute between two or more parties, for their decision, and judgment. The persons to whom such matters are referred are sometimes called referees.

REFERENCE, mercantile law. A direction or request by a party who asks a credit to the person from whom he expects it, to call on some other person named in order to ascertain the character or mercantile standing of the former.

REFERENCE, practice. The act of sending any matter by a court of chancery or one exercising equitable powers, to a master or other officer, in order that he may ascertain facts and report to the court. By reference is also understood that part of an instrument of writing where it points to another for the matters therein contained. For the effect of such reference, see 1 Pick. R. 27; 17 Mass. R. 443; 15 Pick. R. 66; 7 Halst. R. 25; 14 Wend. R. 619; 10 Conn. R. 422; 4 Greenl. R. 14, 471; 3 Greenl. R. 393; 6 Pick. R. 460; the thing referred to is also called a reference.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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As reference functions become more and more automated through call-center interactive voice-response systems and automated call-distribution systems, the intellectual component traditionally associated with reference librarianship becomes increasingly etiolated.
Loorits & Dubjeva (1997) have reported the satisfaction of the users with reference services at Tartu University Library.
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An early contribution to this strand of critical literature was Miller's 1984 article "What's Wrong with Reference?" It suggested that reference services were in need of review, emphasizing the diminishing quality and effectiveness of reference as librarians became victims of their own success.
"By making Windows design a priority in our development, you immediately feel at home with Reference Manager from the first time you launch it."