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|
Level: Elementary school, Middle school
Notes: Citations are in MLA 8th edition
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Plagiarism: It’s a tough word for young students to read and understand, but it also comes with some scary consequences. Consequences can include teacher, parent, and/or administrator intervention, a failed grade, and in some cases, even school expulsion. The best way to prevent it? Teach your students, while they’re at a young age, to be responsible researchers. Teaching your students to include citations in their research projects is an essential, lifelong skill that will prevent plagiarism, provide self-confidence in the creation and submission of a research project, and also keep those scary consequences for them at bay.
Citations for Beginners was developed to help young researchers understand:
- what plagiarism is
- why citations are created (to acknowledge or give credit to the original author, to allow others to find the source themselves, and to demonstrate to your instructor that you’re capable of locating high quality resources)
- the format and components of a citation in MLA format
- the purpose of using citation generator websites, such as EasyBib, to develop citations
Use this video in a whole group setting to serve as an introduction to the citation process, assign students to watch it at home for homework as a “flipped classroom” activity, or collaborate with your school librarian to develop extension activities. The possibilities are endless and learning about citations is vital to becoming a responsible and ethical researcher.
Believe it or not, elementary students aren’t too young to use citation generator websites, such as EasyBib.com. Its simple design allows for young students to quickly and easily cite their sources. Students are capable of creating citations for books, websites, magazine articles, videos, and many other sources they may use while researching. Students can copy and paste the citations into their research project or export them to their Google Docs or Microsoft Word template.
Looking for more videos to help with the research process? Be on the lookout for more coming your way! We’re planning on rolling out videos related to the research process and plagiarism in the months to come! Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our new and exciting resources for educators.