What does a bibliography do?
All dissertations and theses are different. But generally they contain the same headings or elements. Almost all of them have an abstract, an introduction, some form of literature review, a methodology for the conduction of primary or secondary research, the analysis of this research, the outcome of this research - otherwise known as the findings, the recommendations drawn from the research, a conclusion and a bibliography.
A bibliography is the section of the essay, dissertation or thesis that lists all of the sources an individual has used in creating the academic document in question.
It is important to check the style guidelines of your University or college before you begin to create a bibliography, as notoriously each University or college will request that a bibliography is pulled together in a way that matches their own unique style. Whilst this provides consistency for University staff and those marking the academic assignments, it isn't all that helpful if you have transferred from one educational institution to another, or if you are working with best practice guidelines on bibliography creation that you've sourced from the internet. So remember, first things first, find out how your University or college wants to see a bibliography created. Then all you need to do is apply these guidelines to your own dissertation or essay.
A bibliography is there to demonstrate to the reader of your dissertation that:
- You have used a wide range of sources in order to complete a well researched academic assignment
- You have appropriately attributed the ideas, words or work of other people - i.e. you haven't plagiarised
- You have used key texts that your tutor may have recommended that you consult
- You have used a range of sources to inform your work; i.e. the internet, text books, primary sources, etc
As all Universities and colleges are different, and so have different rules or guidelines as to how they like their bibliographies to be set out, it is pointless providing an example of a bibliography entry here. However, listed below are some common key principles that are found in most bibliography requirements:
- Bibliographies should be held at the end of the dissertation, essay or thesis
- They usually list source information in alphabetical order, using the author's surname to dictate the order
- Most bibliographies will as a minimum contain the following information; author's surname, author's initial, title of book or source, date of publication
- Websites that have been accessed to help inform the content of an essay or dissertation also need to be recorded in a bibliography. They should include the URL of the webpage, as well as the date and time that the webpage was accessed by the essay author.