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Drafting a Bibliography for Research Paper

Drafting a good bibliography is an essential step in creating a good research paper. In many ways it is as important as doing the research and writing the paper itself. The bibliography is a complete list of the works referenced in the body of the text, with details about the authors, dates, and publishers. A reader should be able to use your bibliography to track down all of the sources used to create the paper. In this way, a complete and detailed bibliography is the best defense against plagiarism. All of the sources cited in the text should be listed in the bibliography, and vice verse. In some cases, an research paper assignment might include a “works consulted” list in addition to a works cited or reference list, in which you will list all of the sources used in your research, even if you did not quote or refer to them in the body of the paper. The format for the works consulted list should be the same one used for the works cited.

In the age of the internet, there are more types of sources for research and citation than ever. Nevertheless, in an academic setting, the most common type of source is probably going to be a book. Remember that each type of source will have a slightly different format for a bibliography. Some common types of sources include:

There are numerous types of citation formats, depending on which field you are conducting research in. Two of the most common are APA, used mostly for fields in the social sciences (sociology, psychology, economics), and MLA, used in the humanities (literature and art). A good guide for formatting your bibliography in these styles is the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab). Make sure you familiarize yourself with the guidelines for your particular field.  Your bibliography will most likely be listed in alphabetical order by author, and will need to include the author’s name, the name of the work cited, publisher, and the publication date. Often the city of the publication and the page numbers referenced will be required also.  The guidelines for each format will specify different ways of citing works with multiple authors, edited works, works included in anthologies, and anonymous works.