In this video we are going to cover what a bibliography is, why they are used, various types of bibliographies, how to create a bibliography, and when to know if you should use a bibliography.
Why Do We Use Bibliographies?
Have you ever sat in a chair, looked out on a beautiful sunset and thought, 'what exactly is a bibliography?' Me either, but you may have to write one one day, so let's talk about what a bibliography is and why they are important.
Most often, when the word 'bibliography' is used in an academic setting it's referring to a list of sources used by the author to inform their work on a given topic. This means that you're going to include all the works that were read when researching the topic - whether or not they're used directly in your own writing.
There are several reasons why we use bibliographies. The first major reason for using a bibliography is to inform your reader on how widely you researched the topic on which you're writing. While you may cite only seven or eight sources within a paper, you may have read 25, 50, or even 100 different books, journal articles, or scholarly websites in finding those sources. Showing just how widely you researched your topic provides more credence and credibility to your work.
Another use for a bibliography is to allow your reader to know if you considered a work but chose not to include it within your piece, or if you didn't consult a particular author at all. For instance, I may be completing a research paper on the behavior of chimpanzees both in the wild and in captivity. If someone was reading through my piece and didn't see me cite Jane Goodall, one of the most famous chimpanzee experts of all time, they may be curious. A bibliography would let them know if I considered any of her famous works or if I failed to give her work any consideration at all. This would allow them to critique my own work on a much more informed basis.
One of the largest benefits for you personally in creating a bibliography is that it allows you to keep track of all the research you've consulted on a topic. For instance, when you are first writing a paper that you've researched, you may not initially utilize a source that you consulted. However, after you've done some rewriting and reworking of your paper, you may find that you really did need to include a source after all. Having a bibliography, it would be much easier for you to find the source information; you don't have to start all over again in the search process. Creating a bibliography allows you to build a small database of information on a number of given topics. While you're never going to write the same paper twice in an academic setting, you may write on a similar subject. Having a bibliography that you created as a place to start your research will put you much further ahead in the process.
Types of Bibliographies
What are the types on bibliographies? The first type you may find is an annotated bibliography, and that's going to give the citation of each source you consulted along with a brief description and evaluation of the source.
The second type is enumerative. An enumerative bibliography is a list of sources that were consulted, simply citing them in a proper format.
The third type of bibliography is a list of works published during a particular time in history - that's called a period bibliography. These are often used in anthropological, historical, or cultural research.
A subject bibliography is a list of sources on a particular subject, often considered a record of the most important works in any given field of study.
Now that you know the types of bibliography, let's talk about how you create one.
How Do You Create a Bibliography?
One of the first things you have to do in preparing to create a bibliography is to decide in advance what type of bibliography you are going to do - annotated, enumerative, period, or subject. In an academic setting, you are most likely going to do an annotated or enumerative bibliography. The second step is to decide on the citation formatting you're going to be using. The two most common types are APA and MLA, followed by Chicago formatting. The third step is to keep a record of the citations that you're going to be using, as well as keeping them in your chosen format.
Now, on your screen, you're going to see a sample annotated bibliography in APA format. This bibliography sample is provided to us by Purdue University. As you can see, the first step is to cite the source in proper formatting - that's the first paragraph that you see. That is an APA-formatted source: author's last name, year of publication, the title of the book, as well as the publishing information.
The second thing that you see is a brief summary of the work; that's that second paragraph. You see exactly what the book is about. Is it fiction or nonfiction? What is it based on, and what are the basic things that it covers? The final paragraph is a brief critique of the work from this particular researcher's point of view.
When Do You Need a Bibliography?
Now, how do you know when you need a bibliography? A good way to know is if your professor tells you to write one. On those occasions when it isn't clear - or isn't that clear - here are some good rules of thumb for deciding whether or not to utilize a bibliography:
1. When you are researching a topic you may want or need to do further research on in the future, you're going to want to do a bibliography. This includes any papers written in your major or minor field of study.
2. When you are writing a biography of a famous and/or historical person in which there are a lot of sources or a particularly large body of work.
3. When you are presenting new information in a field of study, or your conclusions are contrary or contrasting current trends or norms of the time.
4. When you are providing a critique of another author's piece of work.
5. When you are writing a paper for which others will be critiquing your conclusions.
6. When you have chosen to write on a more advanced topic and have chosen not to provide foundational information. This will allow the reader to know that you have looked at the foundations of the field, but chose to spend your limited writing space on more advanced information.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to:
- Explain what a bibliography is and define the different types
- Describe how to write a bibliography
- Understand why and when you should write a bibliography