Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Referencing & Bibliography

Compiling a bibliography

Introduction

The bibliography is a fundamental part of your research, even if it stands at the very end and sometimes is just considered an appendix. In fact it shows the breadth of your research, the variety of sources you used and the level of specialisation you have reached in your research subject.

The bibliography has the key function of guiding readers of your work into the field; the combination of references and bibliography help readers to locate the sources and to understand the kind of information that can be found on the subject. Therefore it is essential for a bibliography to be clear and straightforward, in addition to being well combined and consistent with the reference system.

The PORT website (Postgraduate Online Research Training) offers online training and resources for academic researchers in Romance languages and cultures. This section of the tutorial covers a number of subjects about which further information can be obtained in the PORT tutorial on building a bibliography, therefore links have been included where appropriate.

Software is available to help compile and maintain your bibliography, this is covered in the next section, 'software for bibliography and referencing'.

How and where to start

It is strongly advisable not to leave the compilation of the bibliography to the end of the writing up process, but to start from the beginning of your research. There are three main ways to obtain the information that can help you build up your bibliography:

  • Check the bibliographies of key works in your field to get a general sense of what has been done and what is left to do.
  • Conduct library catalogue and database searches for your subject. See the sections on using library catalogues and using electronic resources for further information.
  • Talk to your supervisor.
You will keep on expanding your bibliography during the course of your postgraduate studies. In this sense, it is very useful to add notes of your readings to the bibliography, they will help you remember why a particular reading is important and how you can use it during the writing up.

You may also find it useful to separate bibliographical references for your specific subject from the methodological and theoretical questions.

From the beginning you should ensure you record complete bibliographical references, this will avoid the effort of going back to look for a missing year of publication right before printing out your work.

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