A bibliography is a list of sources that includes enough publication information so that the reader can easily find the original source. A bibliography may include a wide variety of sources such as books, journals, websites, conference papers, interviews, or other kinds of documents. When you include a bibliography in your paper you aren't just doing it because your professor requires you to do so. Rather, you are sharing an important tool that your reader can use to examine your paper topic in more detail. Other names for a bibliography are "Works Cited" or "References."
How is a Bibliography Used?
When doing research for a paper, you may come across a sentence with information that is particularly interesting or relevant to the topic you are investigating. You'll want to know where that idea came from, or where you can get more information.
Look at this first sentence from an article entitled "The population ecology of novel plant – herbivore interactions" by Matthew L. Forister and Joseph S. Wilson in the May 2013 issue of the journal Oikos.
"Herbivorous insects are characterized not only by enormous species richness, but also by great variation in diet (Price et al. 2011). The number and type of plants attacked constitute the host-range of an herbivore, and many fields of research have been occupied with understanding variation in host range among herbivore species (Jaenike 1990, Olff et al. 1999)."
Note that in each sentence (see bold-face) there is a parenthetical reference to a bibliographic citation that the author used in the paper. These are often called in-text citations. By placing these in-text citations, the author is directing you to the complete citation to the original source that has been listed in the bibliography (or References or Works Cited) page at the end of the article. Here is how the citation looks in the author's bibliography:
The Citation Style
When you write papers, your professors will require you to use a particular format, or style guide, for citing sources. The style guide required usually depends on the accepted standard for a particular discipline. For example, the fields of business, education, psychology typically used APA (American Psychological Association) Style while courses in literature, linguistics or philosophy use MLA (Modern Language Association) Style.
Plymouth State University subscribes to the popular EasyBib tool that will help you create and save citations for current, and even future papers. Unlike the free version you may have used in the past, our license provides access to many styles, some of which you may have never heard of. Create your own EasyBib account right away! Click on Sign up in the upper right hand corner of the screen and enter a few quick pieces of information and you will be ready to start organizing all those sources you found.