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|
Below are standard formats and examples for basic bibliographic information recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA). For more information on the MLA format, see http://www.mla.org/style_faq.
Your list of works cited should begin at the end of the paper on a new page with the centered title, Works Cited. Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) If the author's name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An, or The.
For dates, spell out the names of months in the text of your paper, but abbreviate them in the list of works cited, except for May, June, and July. Use either the day-month-year style (22 July 1999) or the month-day-year style (July 22, 1999) and be consistent. With the month-day-year style, be sure to add a comma after the year unless another punctuation mark goes there.
Underlining or Italics?
When reports were written on typewriters, the names of publications were underlined because most typewriters had no way to print italics. If you write a bibliography by hand, you should still underline the names of publications. But, if you use a computer, then publication names should be in italics as they are below. Always check with your instructor regarding their preference of using italics or underlining. Our examples use italics.
All MLA citations should use hanging indents, that is, the first line of an entry should be flush left, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented 1/2".
Capitalization, Abbreviation, and Punctuation
The MLA guidelines specify using title case capitalization - capitalize the first words, the last words, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. Use lowercase abbreviations to identify the parts of a work (e.g., vol. for volume, ed. for editor) except when these designations follow a period. Whenever possible, use the appropriate abbreviated forms for the publisher's name (Random instead of Random House).
Separate author, title, and publication information with a period followed by one space. Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle. Include other kinds of punctuation only if it is part of the title. Use quotation marks to indicate the titles of short works appearing within larger works (e.g., "Memories of Childhood." American Short Stories). Also use quotation marks for titles of unpublished works and songs.
Author's last name, first name. Book title. Additional information. City of publication: Publishing company, publication date.
Allen, Thomas B. Vanishing Wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1974.
Boorstin, Daniel J. The Creators: A History of the Heroes of the Imagination. New York: Random, 1992.
Hall, Donald, ed. The Oxford Book of American Literacy Anecdotes. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.
Searles, Baird, and Martin Last. A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1979.
Toomer, Jean. Cane. Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton, 1988.
Encyclopedia & DictionaryFormat:
Author's last name, first name. "Title of Article." Title of Encyclopedia. Date.
Note: If the dictionary or encyclopedia arranges articles alphabetically, you may omit volume and page numbers.
"Azimuthal Equidistant Projection." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1993.
Pettingill, Olin Sewall, Jr. "Falcon and Falconry." World Book Encyclopedia. 1980.
Tobias, Richard. "Thurber, James." Encyclopedia Americana. 1991 ed.
Levinson, David, and Melvin M. Ember, eds. Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. 4 vols. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. Print.
Magazine & Newspaper ArticlesFormat:
Author's last name, first name. "Article title." Periodical title Volume # Date: inclusive pages.
Note: If an edition is named on the masthead, add a comma after the date and specify the edition.
Hall, Trish. "IQ Scores Are Up, and Psychologists Wonder Why." New York Times 24 Feb. 1998, late ed.: F1+.
Kalette, Denise. "California Town Counts Down to Big Quake." USA Today 9 21 July 1986: sec. A: 1.
Kanfer, Stefan. "Heard Any Good Books Lately?" Time 113 21 July 1986: 71-72.
Trillin, Calvin. "Culture Shopping." New Yorker 15 Feb. 1993: 48-51.
Website or WebpageFormat:
Author's last name, first name (if available). "Title of work within a project or database." Title of site, project, or database. Editor (if available). Electronic publication information (Date of publication or of the latest update, and name of any sponsoring institution or organization). Date of access and <full URL>.
Note: If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.
Devitt, Terry. "Lightning injures four at music festival." The Why? Files. 2 Aug. 2001. 23 Jan. 2002 <http://whyfiles.org /137lightning/index.html>.
Dove, Rita. "Lady Freedom among Us." The Electronic Text Center. Ed. David Seaman. 1998. Alderman Lib., U of Virginia. 19 June 1998 <http://etext.lib.virginia.edu /subjects/afam.html>.
Lancashire, Ian. Homepage. 28 Mar. 2002. 15 May 2002 <http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080 /~ian/>.
Levy, Steven. "Great Minds, Great Ideas." Newsweek 27 May 2002. 10 June 2002 <http://www.msnbc.com /news/754336.asp>.
SampleSample Bibliography: MLA Works Cited Format
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