What is a Bibliography?
A bibliography can be defined as,
“A list of reference materials (involving any kind of content ; text, music, paintings, video etc.) elucidating the type, nature and other detailed information on the basis of name, date, place and genre of the materials.”
“A complete categorical compilation of any type of content based on it’s creator(s), editors and time (of production, distribution).”
Bibliography, also known as works cited, reference list is basically an orderly study and referencing of books and source materials used in academic research. It might or might not include any information on the literary analysis or criticism of the materials cited.
Etymology and Origin
The etymology of the term bibliography can be semantically traced back to the New Latin bibliographia. It is a Greek word meaning “copying of books.”
bibli (books) and graphia -graphy (writing)
The concept was in practice by Greek writers in the first three centuries AD and was referred to as the copying of books by hand. By the turn of 12th Century, the concept took a literal form and was referred to as the intellectual practice of compiling books and materials. The modern day notion of bibliography, however, only took off in the 17th Century.
Importance and Use of Bibliographies
A mandatory requirement of copyright laws and academic conventions is that whenever a research paper is written, there should be a section at the end of it where you acknowledge the sources used.
So, bibliography means listing all the sources which you have consulted while writing your essay or research article. The sources may be in the form of printed and online books, websites, web documents, web blogs, newspaper articles, journals, pod casts, wikis, unpublished material, maps etc.
Citation ensures that the information contained in the research paper is based on logic, truth and facts. Absence of references or bibliography indicates that the paper may be a piece of plagiarism.
Standard Citation Styles Used in Bibliographies
There are various formats used in the creation of a bibliography such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association of America (MLA) and Chicago Manual of Style and Council of Biology Editors (CBE).
The APA style of referencing is common in the papers written on topics of social sciences; MLA style is used in field of humanities; and CBE is a popular citation style in the natural sciences.
Format of a Standard Bibliography
Bibliography Format for a Book
A standard bibliography for a book typically consists of the following information:
- Date of Publication
Bibliography Format for a Periodical & Journal Article
A bibliography entry for a journal or periodical article contains the following information:
- Article Title
- Journal Title
- Volume Number
- Date of Publication
Types of Bibliographies
An annotated bibliography provides a brief description or annotation of the cited sources. The annotation comprises of a brief summary of content along with a short analysis or evaluation.
A current bibliography provides a list of published material and sources which are recently published or currently recorded material. The purpose of a current bibliography is to report recent literature as soon as it is published.
A retrospective bibliography provides a lists of documents or parts of documents (articles) published in previous years, as distinct from a current bibliography.
A serial bibliography is published over a period of known and pre-defined time slots. Time intervals for serial bibliographies normally range from weekly to annual basis and informs on the updates of book and research article titles.
A national bibliography provides a list of documents and sources published in a particular country and are produced in the national or local language of a country.
An international bibliography provides a list of works, sources, publications, manuals, books, notes, articles and websites collected from world wide sources.
A subject bibliography provides a list of works and sources relates to a specific subject.
A period bibliography provides a list of works and publications produced within a specific period range.
Analytical bibliographies refer to the collection of sources and material for the purpose of critical study and evaluation and refers to the following categories:
Descriptive (Physical) Bibliography
A descriptive bibliography provides a list of detailed facts for a book analysis by listing its size, format, binding, and publication details.
A historical bibliography provides a list of contextual factors related to the production of a book i.e. printing details, publishing, bookselling and binding etc.
A textual bibliography provides a list of literary materials, concerned with identification and editing of transcription errors from manuals, manuscripts, transcripts, scribes and inscriptions.
Enumerative (Systematic) Bibliography
An enumerative bibliography provides a list of the list of books according to some system, common theme or reference plan and includes information on by author, by subject, or by date.
Contrary to a descriptive bibliography, an enumerative bibliography only provides minute details on books and sources.
Bibliographies for Non-book Sources
A discography is the systematic process which involves listing, categorization and branding of musical materials or phonographs on the basis of artists, composers, conductors, genres and era.
A filmography provides a list of films, documentaries and movies collected and grouped w.r.t a certain topic or theme.
Webography (Webliography) or Internet Bibliography
A webography, webliography or internet bibliography provides a list of websites related to a certain topic or subject. A website bibliography is limited to the listing and citation of online sources.
An arachinography provides a reference list of URLs collected on a specific subject or topic. The term has been coined by NASA research historian Andrew J. Butrica.
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
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 BibliographiesSample Bibliography: MLA Works Cited Format
Sample Bibliography: APA Reference List Format
|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|