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 American Psychological Association (APA). For more information on the APA format, see http://www.apastyle.org.
Your list of works cited should begin at the end of the paper on a new page with the centered title, References. Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) Only the initials of the first and middle names are given. 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 APA 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 APA guidelines specify using sentence-style capitalization for the titles of books or articles, so you should capitalize only the first word of a title and subtitle. The exceptions to this rule would be periodical titles and proper names in a title which should still be capitalized. The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized.
If there is more than one author, use an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author. If there are more than six authors, list only the first one and use et al. for the rest.
Place the date of publication in parentheses immediately after the name of the author. Place a period after the closing parenthesis. Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works within longer works.
Author's last name, first initial. (Publication date). Book title. Additional information. City of publication: Publishing company.
Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
Boorstin, D. (1992). The creators: A history of the heroes of the imagination. New York: Random House.
Nicol, A. M., & Pexman, P. M. (1999). Presenting your findings: A practical guide for creating tables. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Searles, B., & Last, M. (1979). A reader's guide to science fiction. New York: Facts on File, Inc.
Toomer, J. (1988). Cane. Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton.
Encyclopedia & DictionaryFormat:
Author's last name, first initial. (Date). Title of Article. Title of Encyclopedia (Volume, pages). City of publication: Publishing company.
Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new encyclopedia britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Pettingill, O. S., Jr. (1980). Falcon and Falconry. World book encyclopedia. (pp. 150-155). Chicago: World Book.
Tobias, R. (1991). Thurber, James. Encyclopedia americana. (p. 600). New York: Scholastic Library Publishing.
Magazine & Newspaper ArticlesFormat:
Author's last name, first initial. (Publication date). Article title. Periodical title, volume number(issue number if available), inclusive pages.
Note: Do not enclose the title in quotation marks. Put a period after the title. If a periodical includes a volume number, italicize it and then give the page range (in regular type) without "pp." If the periodical does not use volume numbers, as in newspapers, use p. or pp. for page numbers.
Note: Unlike other periodicals, p. or pp. precedes page numbers for a newspaper reference in APA style.
Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 893-896.
Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April 9). Making the grade in today's schools. Time, 135, 28-31.
Kalette, D. (1986, July 21). California town counts town to big quake. USA Today, 9, p. A1.
Kanfer, S. (1986, July 21). Heard any good books lately? Time, 113, 71-72.
Trillin, C. (1993, February 15). Culture shopping. New Yorker, pp. 48-51.
Website or WebpageFormat:
Author's name. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number, Retrieved month day, year, from full URL
Author's name. (Date of publication). Title of work. Retrieved month day, year, from full URL
Note: When citing Internet sources, refer to the specific website document. If a document is undated, use "n.d." (for no date) immediately after the document title. Break a lengthy URL that goes to another line after a slash or before a period. Continually check your references to online documents. There is no period following a URL.
Note: If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.
Devitt, T. (2001, August 2). Lightning injures four at music festival. The Why? Files. Retrieved January 23, 2002, from http://whyfiles.org/137lightning/index.html
Dove, R. (1998). Lady freedom among us. The Electronic Text Center. Retrieved June 19, 1998, from Alderman Library, University of Virginia website: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/subjects/afam.html
Note: If a document is contained within a large and complex website (such as that for a university or a government agency), identify the host organization and the relevant program or department before giving the URL for the document itself. Precede the URL with a colon.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2000, March 7). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Prevention & Treatment, 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved November 20, 2000, from http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume3/pre0030001a.html
GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/usersurveys/survey1997-10/
Health Canada. (2002, February). The safety of genetically modified food crops. Retrieved March 22, 2005, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/protection/biologics_genetics/gen_mod_foods/genmodebk.html
Hilts, P. J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from http://www.nytimes.com
Sample Bibliography: APA Reference List Format
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