Bibliography Example Science Project

Citing Sources

A. K. A.

The Bibliography

Choosing Reliable Sources

In order to write a research paper, you first need to find out information about your topic.

This is called doing research.You can't get around it!

Make sure sources that you cite in a research paper are reliable. To be reliable means that you can trust the information (duh). Books, magazines, and websites will be the primary places you will be looking for information; however, not all information on the internet is reliable. For instance, a project on Bat Boy is not recommended, even though there is a lot of information available in Weekly World News.

There are however many sites which are very reliable, one of which is Wikipedia. While information on Wikipedia is not guaranteed to be accurate, science articles are often written by experts in the field and are generally a good source of knowledge. Another positive about Wikipedia is that many articles also have sources listed at the bottom which will provide you other places to look for your topic. Look for a links section like the following example:

External links

Here are some useful criteria for deciding if a website is reliable:

  • Government addresses can generally be trusted (www.abcdefg.gov)
  • College and university websites are usually accurate (www.abcdefs.edu)
  • Websites from sceintific groups or non-government organizations are usually trustworthy. These websites will be run by people named “International Society of [something],” “Organization of American [something],” or “National [something] Association.”

Websites which appear to be run by a single person may be unreliable. Unless directed there by your teacher, you should be wary about using information from these sites. If you are worried that a site you found by a simple web search is inaccurate or unreliable, ask your teacher or librarian.

Writing a Citation

Whenever you do research, it is important to say where you got your information from. This way, you give credit to the people who wrote the book or website you looked at.

You also want to be sure you are not taking someone else's writing, from a book or website, and putting it in your report word for word.

This is called plagiarism.It is dishonest! (and possibly illegal...)

After using a source to write your paper, it is important to cite in on your works cited, or bibliography, page. However, each medium of information (books, journals, TV, internet ...) has a different method of citation. In addition to this, the writing experts in the world cannot decide on one way to cite work which is appropriate for everyone. The one group which seems to lead the rest is the Modern Language Association (MLA). Here's how to cite some material in the MLA format:

Book
Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.
Magazine or newspaper
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages.
If you are using a fancy scholarly journal, like American Mathematical Society Monthly, there is a different format:
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages.
Website
Name of Site. Date of Posting/Revision. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sometimes found in copyright statements). Date you accessed the site <electronic address (this is www.something.com)>.

More information on these formats can be found in the OWL labs.

The Science Buddies group provides a helpful guide to explain the format for a science fair research paper.

Overview

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

Getting Started

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 Bibliographies

Sample Bibliography: MLA Works Cited Format
Sample Bibliography: APA Reference List Format

Bibliography Checklist

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

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