A bibliography is a list of the sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) that you used while writing the paper. The bibliography provides many services. It tells the reader where you found the information in your paper; the reader will decide how reliable your paper is based on the sources you use. It is also a courtesy for anyone who reads your paper; it will tell the reader exactly where he or she can find the same source in order to find more information on the subject.
The field of criminal justice generally uses the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association style guide for all written or published works.
This is the style you will use in all of your courses. It is very important that you cite your sources in the correct APA format and that you use the proper parenthetic format when you refer to a source in your papers.
The bibliography tells the reader a lot about your research. A bibliography that contains reliable, accurate sources gives the reader confidence that your paper is worth reading and taking seriously. On the other hand, a bibliography that contains citations to dubious websites or biased sources tells the reader he or she may not even want to read your paper. The bibliography is the best way to let your readers know that you’ve written a credible, worthwhile paper. It is a direct reflection of quality.
By looking at your bibliography, your professor can tell at a glance whether you did thoughtful, serious research. A bibliography filled with unreliable websites tells the professor you didn’t put much effort into your research. A bibliography filled with incorrect dates, inconsistent capitalization, and spelling errors tells your professor the work you put into the paper is very likely to be just as careless.
Being able to read a bibliography is even more important than being able to create one. You need to be comfortable looking at a bibliographic citation and knowing what form of publication it’s referring to. Is the citation to a book, a chapter in a book, a newspaper article, a journal article… etc.? Equally important is knowing what each element of the citation refers to: page number, publication date, volume number, editor, author, etc.
In this course you will be learning the correct format for the most common citations you are likely to use: a book, a chapter within a book, a magazine, a newspaper, a scholarly journal, and a website. There are many other sources of information (e.g. a video you find online, or a recording), but these are the ones with which you should be very familiar.
Any statement you make in a paper that is not common knowledge must have a reference to where you found the information. Not citing your sources is one aspect of plagiarism. Plagiarism in any form is a severe academic offense with severe repercussions.
Absolutely. In fact, we encourage you to create an EasyBib account that will help you create and save your bibliographies electronically. Since it is easy to look up the correct format, you won’t have to memorize the citation rules. However, you should be aware that all electronic citation makers, such as EasyBib, are very likely to contain errors. Don’t rely on EasyBib, or any other citation maker, to be correct all the time! It is up to you to correct the format before handing in your papers.