When writing a dissertation, thesis or any other research-based assignment, the bibliography is important and will impact the final grade. It references the list of sources used during your documentary research. The bibliography generally appears at the end of the work, before the appendices.

It can have different names: index, collection of references, works cited, or even webography or sitography when the sources come only from the Internet.

 

Summary 

  1. Understand the purpose of the bibliography
  2. Know which sources to include in the bibliography
  3. Format your bibliography 
  4. Choose the appropriate citation standard for your bibliography
  5. Master bibliographic writing tools

 

1. Understand the purpose of the bibliography

 

Allow readers to deepen their knowledge

Readers can use the list of references to explore a subject further and enrich their understanding. Indeed, readers can easily and quickly find the references for the works they would like to explore.

 

Attest to the quality of your written work

The teacher or grader of a report, thesis, or other writing assignment will judge the quality of the writing based on the reliability of the sources used. The bibliography showcases your research and adds credibility to your writing. Copyright is respected, and plagiarism is avoided.

 

Demonstrate respect for copyright

Has your work already been thought of and explored by others? You should give credit to the authors who originally developed these insights. Academic integrity is still valued. The grader appreciates when the writer cites their sources rather than pretending that they came up with the ideas on their own. Plus, truthfulness carries no risk compared to plagiarism.

Why is plagiarism prohibited?

2. Know which sources to include in the bibliography

To avoid being penalised for plagiarism, it's best to know which bibliographic references to include in your bibliography. Indeed, what should be cited? For example, did you know that something that is considered common knowledge does not need to be cited? For everything else, it's best to err on the side of caution.

 

Unknown or anonymous authors

When the author does not want to be cited or their identity is not known, you should indicate "anonymous" instead of the name or even "unknown author". This way, Copyright is still respected.

Compilatio article: "Should anonymous sources be referenced?"

 

Images and graphics

Indicate the source of the image or graphic, usually below the visual or next to it. You should state the author's name, the title of the visual, the year of publication and the URL of the website where you found this reference. Then copy these references in the bibliography.

Compilatio article: "Why use royalty-free images and graphics during class?

Secondary sources

Sometimes one author quotes another author. In this case, you should indicate both authors with both their references. The primary and secondary sources enrich the main text and the bibliography. This kind of reference is called a double citation.

Compilatio article: "A primary source cited by a secondary source: Should you cite them both?"

 

Translated quotes

When you translate a text, you must mention this so that the reader is aware of this information.

Compilatio article: "Translation = plagiarism?"

 

Paraphrasing or rewording

To express an idea, you can rewrite the idea in your own words. Paraphrasing is allowed, provided you cite your source.

Compilatio article: "Paraphrase = plagiarism?"

 

Recycling an assignment

Beware of self-plagiarism! After an academic assignment has been graded, it can be used again. It should be correctly cited as a source like any other bibliographic reference.

Compilatio article: "Beware of self-plagiarism"

 

3. Format your bibliography

There are multiple ways to lay out your bibliography. Before arranging your ideas, you should ask yourself what you want to highlight: the wealth of authors, subjects, types of content... When there are more than a dozen sources, it is a good idea to include titles and subtitles in order to structure your bibliography.

 

Arranged alphabetically

You can first put the name of the author or the website. This way of sorting is easy to implement but is not very useful to the reader because the ideas will be mixed.

 

Arranged chronologically

To emphasise the recency or antiquatedness of the sources, the bibliography can be arranged by publication date.

Or, to showcase the chronology of detailed ideas, you can arrange your references in the same order.

 

Arranged by content type

The sources can be grouped by the format of the information: images, scientific articles, videos, graphics, books, websites...

They can also be organised by theme: statistics, definitions, scientific research, law articles...

 

Arranged in order of appearance in the work

This method of arranging the sources used is easy to implement because you simply need to verify that each footnote has its equivalent citation in the bibliography.

 

 

4. Choose the appropriate citation standard for your bibliography

The citation standard determines:

  • The order of bibliographic references (For example: the title of a scientific article before the author's name)
  • Which formatting is used to differentiate quotations: italics, parentheses, brackets, quotation marks, abbreviations, etc.
  • Where to cite your sources: in the body of the text, in footnotes, in the bibliography, etc.

Which citation standard to use is often decided by the writer. Sometimes the educational institution imposes a standard to follow (refer to the regulatory framework, a research librarian...). Regardless, only one standard should be used for the entire document, and all sources should be cited.

The 4 most used citation standards are Harvard Reference System, APA, Chicago Style and ABNT:

Quotation rules to avoid plagiarism

Pay attention and refer to each standard to notice the subtleties.

 

When information is missing, you should check the veracity of the source.

In addition, when the author does not wish to be cited, you can put "anonymous" instead of the name.

 

 

5. Master bibliographic writing tools

5. Master bibliographic writing tools

Studium: to guarantee a complete bibliography and avoid plagiarism

Studium is the student version of the software used by 95% of universities to detect plagiarism. It can be accessed at rates starting at €4.95, and it helps students avoid plagiarism by verifying that they've cited all sources used. Studium is used at the end of the writing process to compare your bibliography with the detected sources and then adjust your bibliography and footnotes if necessary.

Teachers appreciate if you add a short note at the end of your paper to indicate that the document has been verified by this software. This demonstrates the writer's integrity.

Why choose Studium by Compilatio rather than another tool?

  • Your teachers already use it regularly
  • A programme combining powerful software with a nifty Toolbox
  • An affordable offer based on your needs

 

Scribbr, also active in plagiarism detection, lays out other reasons in the article "Scribbr has declared: "Compilatio: the anti-plagiarism software for universities", Compilatio article, published in mars 2020.

 

Zotero : to save your sources and organise your research

Zotero : to save your sources and organise your research

Zotero is free software that allows you to easily cite sources. Just save the references found on the web and insert them as a footnote and in the bibliography with this tool. The chosen citation standard is easily applied.

 

Word: to cite your sources and build your bibliography

Word is the most widely used word-processing software for students to write research assignments. One lesser-known fact is that this tool also allows you to manage your references for sources in footnotes and create a bibliography, in the "References" tab.

To begin, you must choose which Citation Standard to apply for the whole document. Then, in the "Manage Sources" tab, you enter the type of document (article, book ...) and all information pertaining to the citations. We recommend that you refer to the list of sources found with the Studium software to be sure you haven't forgotten anything. You can also manage these references as you write them by clicking on "Insert Citation".

As your research work is written, the "Bibliography" tab will aggregate all the references. Here is a quick video demonstration :

 

 


The bibliography showcases the work you've carried out as part of your documentary research, or for a dissertation or thesis. It is just as important as the development of your topic. As such, the bibliography should prompt the reader to dive deeper into the topic.

 

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