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|
- Organize bibliographies alphabetically, by author. Write the author's name: Last name, First name.
- If no author is given, the entry is alphabetized by title. When alphabetizing titles, ignore the articles ‘a,’ ‘an,’ and ‘the.’ The second word of the title is used for purposes of alphabetization. (e.g., The Midwife's Apprentice is alphabetized using the letter M.)
- If the citation runs to a second line, indent five spaces, or one half inch.
- Most often (and unless indicated below), the title of a publication should be italicized. If it is not possible to use italics, it is acceptable to underline the title.
To cite information from a book, follow this style:
Author. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
Reef, Catherine. Walt Whitman. New York: Clarion, 1995.
- Always take the title from the title page, not the cover.
If, instead of an author, the person named on the title page is the editor or compiler, cite name as above but add“ed.”
Becker, Patricia C., ed. A Statistical Portrait of the United States: Social
Conditions and Trends. Lahnam, MD: Berhan, 2002.
Two or More Authors
- Cite the authors' names in the same order they are listed on the cover.
- Use the Last name, First name format for the first author; for all other authors use First name Last name.
- Use a comma between the authors' names. Place a period after the last author's name.
- If there are more than three authors, either name only the first and add et al., or give all the names.
Barkin, Carol, Elizabeth James. The New Complete Babysitters' Handbook.
New York: Clarion, 1995.
Two or More Works by the Same Author(s)
Use the name in the first entry only. For following entries, use the following to stand for the author's name: three hyphens, a period, and a space (---. ) and then the title. For works by the same author(s), alphabetize by title.
Wisniewski, David. Golem. New York: Clarion, 1996.
--- . Sundiata: Lion King of Mali. New York: Clarion, 1992.
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Encyclopedias and Reference Books
To cite information from an encyclopedia, follow this style:
Author of Article (if given).“Title of Article.” Title of Book. City of Publication:
If citing a familiar source that is frequently updated, like Encyclopedia Americana, full publication information isn't needed—just the volume number and year of publication.
”Dynamics.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Eleventh Edition. 1910.
If the work you're citing is less familiar, or if there is any doubt, include all information:
”Dynamics.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 36 vols. New York: The
Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1910.
Doe, John. “Dynamics.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 36 vols. New York: The
Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1910.
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Poem or Short Story in an Anthology
To cite information from a short story, follow this style:
Author of Story.“Title of Story.” Title of Book. Name of Editor.
City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page numbers of the story.
Malmude, Steve. “Perfect Front Door.” The Best American Poetry, 2002.
Ed. Robert Creeley, David Lehman. New York:
Scribner, 2002. 82-84.
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To cite information from an a magazine, follow this style:
Author.“Title of Article.” Title of Magazine Date: Page(s).
- Months of the year may be abbreviated (except May, June, July). For magazines issued every week or every two weeks, give complete dates, written in this order: Day Month Year, e.g. 25 Feb. 2003
- To cite page numbers:
If on consecutive pages, cite page numbers of the entire article: 7-11.
If possible cite only the last two digits of the second number: 134-45.
If not, cite all the digits of the second number: 198-203.
If not on consecutive pages, write only the first page number followed by a plus sign: 98+.
- Volume and issue numbers are not cited.
McGarvey, Robert.“Game On: Spiderdance Powers NBC's Weakest Link.”
EContent Jan. 2002: 20-29.
No Author Given
- Begin with the title of the article if no author is named.
”Applied Semantics Supports IPTC's Auto-Categorizer.” EContent
Jan. 2002: 10+.
To cite information from an a newspaper, follow this style:
Author.“Title of Article.” Name of Newspaper Date, edition: Page(s).
- Take the name of the newspaper from the masthead, but omit any introductory article: Boston Globe, not The Boston Globe.
- If the city of publication is not part of the newspaper's name, add it in square brackets: Patriot News [Harrisburg, PA]
- Specify the edition of the newspaper, if one is given on the masthead.
- If the article is not on consecutive pages, write the first page number and a plus sign: B1+.
Patrick Healy.“Mergers of some colleges, higher tuitions proposed.”
Boston Globe 27 Feb. 2003: A1
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Video or Film
To cite information from a film, video, or DVD, follow this style:
Title. Director's name. Distributor, year.
Walking with Dinosaurs. Dir. Tim Haines, Jasper James. BBC Video, 2000.
To cite information from a CD-ROM encyclopedia, follow this style:
Author's Name (if available). “Title of Article.” Title of CD-ROM.
Edition. CD-ROM. City of Publication:
”Czech Republic.” Compton's Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Cambridge: The
Learning Company, 1999.
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The Internet is a terrific resource that your children can use for their research projects and homework assignments. When conducting research, students must learn to cite all the sources they use in their assignments. These sources include all the books, magazines, newspapers, and Web sites or other online resources they have used.
While there are several variations on acceptable formats for citing Internet resources, your children can use the following guidelines to cite their online resources in their bibliographies. They will want to follow these styles so that their teachers and other readers can return to the sites and check the information.
It's also wise to have your children print the online material they cite in their bibliographies in case their teachers or readers cannot link to the sites where the original material is located. This will provide printed proof of the original information they've cited.
Worldwide Web Sites
To cite files available for viewing on the Worldwide Web via Netscape, Explorer, and other Web browsers, follow this style:
Author's Name. Full title of work (in quotation marks). Document date (if known), Full http address, Date of visit.
Pikulski, Jack.“The Role of Phonics in the Teaching of Reading.” Feb. 5, 1997,
http://www.eduplace.com/lds/article/phonics.htm, Oct. 6, 1997.
Since Internet sites can change or move over time, students might also want to cite the publisher of the material or Web site as verification.
E-mail, Listserv, and Newslist Citations
To cite information received via the Internet from e-mail, listservs or newslists, follow this style:
Author's Name (or alias, if known), Subject Line from e-mail or posting (in quotation marks), Date of message, Address of to mailing lists or newsgroups, Date of access (in parentheses).
For personal e-mail listing, do not include the e-mail address.
- Jones, John J. “History Project Proposal.” firstname.lastname@example.org (Nov. 15, 1997). [mailing list]
- Wright, Bonnie. “Writing a Narrative Essay.” Personal e-mail (Jan. 18, 1999). [personal e-mail]
Adapted from Modern Language Association of America Citation Guide.
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