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Bibliography Meaning And Definition Of Development

Creating a Working Bibliography


            It is a listing (usually on 3x5 cards) of possible sources (books, articles, pamphlets, etc.) that you might use for gathering information and writing your research paper.  It will be a longer bibliography than the one in your final paper.

            The working bibliography will evolve and change as you gather new sources and eliminate those that are less useful.  Some of the sources may be too technical; some sources may be too general, or unduly biased, inaccurate, or out of date.  These are areas where your critical judgment must come into play.


1.         The first step is to use the finding tools described in this manual, specifically, the web catalog, periodical indexes, encyclopedias, etc.  When you use the web catalog or indexes, you will usually find all the bibliographic information you need for your bibliography card.  However, the bibliography at the end of an encyclopedia article is usually incomplete.

2.         Another step in developing a working bibliography is to look at the books and articles you locate.  Is there a bibliography at the end of the books or chapters or articles you are using?  If your book or article is a particularly useful one (up to date, packed with solid information, focused on your particular area of research interest), the bibliography in it will probably lead to other sources for your paper.

3.         Make bibliography cards for sources that seem to have the greatest potential usefulness to you.  Remember that your working bibliography will change as you come across new sources, as you discard others, and as your research is shaped by your reading.

TO SUMMARIZE:  You can save time in your research if you find a basic,  up-to-date book or article on your topic, or an aspect of your topic, which leads you by its bibliography to other key books or articles.                                                               


1.         FOR BOOKS:

                        The author(s)  (or editor or compiler); sometimes this will be an organization

                        The title (and subtitle if there is one, usually separated by a colon)

                        The volume editor, translator, compiler (when applicable)

                        The edition if it is not the first edition

                        The place of publication

                        The publisher

                        The year of publication

                        The call number  (this is for your convenience; it will not appear in your final bibliography)

2.         FOR ARTICLES:

                        The author(s) of the article

                        The title of the article

                        The title of the periodical

                        The volume and issue number of the periodical

                        The date of the issue

                        The page numbers of the article


            Some researchers add to the bibliography card a notation of the finding tool in which the book or article was cited.  If you have ever gone back to a library to find an article in a journal and discovered that you copied the information incorrectly, you can understand why it is a time saver to know where you found the citation.

            It is easier to copy too much bibliographic information than to find a missing piece when you are typing your paper.



A bibliography is a listing of the books, magazines, and Internet sources that you use in designing, carrying out, and understanding your science fair project. But, you develop a bibliography only after first preparing a background research plan — a road map of the research questions you need to answer. Before you compose your bibliography, you will need to develop your background research plan.

With your background research plan in hand, you will find sources of information that will help you with your science fair project. As you find this information it will be important for you to write down where the sources are from. You can use the Bibliography Worksheet to help you, just print out a few copies and take them with you to the library. As you find a source, write in all of the necessary information. This way, when you are typing your bibliography you won't need to go back to the library and find any missing information. The more information you write down about your source, the easier it will be for you to find if you want to read it again.

When you are writing your report, you will use the sources in your bibliography to remind you of different facts and background information you used for your science fair project. Each time you use some information from a source, you will need to cite the source that it came from. To cite a source, simply put the author's name and the date of the publication in parentheses (Author, date) in your text. If the person reading your report wants to find the information and read more about it, they can look up the reference in your bibliography for more detail about the source. That is why each source you use must be listed in a detailed bibliography with enough information for someone to go and find it by themselves.

Your bibliography should include a minimum of three written sources of information about your topic from books, encyclopedias, and periodicals. You may have additional information from the Web if appropriate.

Examples of Bibliography Formats

There are standards for documenting sources of information in research papers. Even though different journals may use a slightly different format for the bibliography, they all contain the same basic information. The most basic information that each reference should have is the author's name, the title, the date, and the source.

Different types of sources have different formatting in the bibliography. In American schools, the two most commonly used guidelines for this formatting are published by the MLA (Modern Language Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association).

The MLA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called Works Cited. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common MLA formats for your use: MLA Format Examples.

The APA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called the Reference List. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common APA formats for your use: APA Format Examples.

Your teacher will probably tell you which set of guidelines to use.

On the Science Buddies website we use the following guidelines:

  • APA format for online sources
  • MLA format for all other sources
  • APA (author, date, page) format for citations in our articles

Getting Started

Download and print the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet. Keep several copies with you and fill in the information as you do your research. When you are finished, type the information from the worksheet into a formatted bibliography using the examples listed above.

Sample Bibliographies

Sample Bibliography: MLA Works Cited Format
Sample Bibliography: APA Reference List Format

Bibliography Checklist

What Makes a Good Bibliography?For a Good Bibliography, You Should Answer "Yes" to Every Question
Have you included at least 3 sources of written information on your subject? (If you include Web pages, they should be in addition to the written sources.)Yes / No
Have you included complete information to identify each of your sources (author's name, the title, the date, and where it was published)?Yes / No
Have you used the proper format for each of your sources? Most teachers prefer the MLA or APA formats. Yes / No
Is your Bibliography in alphabetical order, by author's last name?Yes / No
Do you have sources of information to answer all of your research questions?Yes / No