Maintaining a Working Bibliography

A working bibliography is a list of all the sources you consult as you work on a research project. You may not need to include every one of these sources in your project, but keep a list of every work youíve consulted so that your records are complete. This helps avoid the problem of wondering "Where did I see that?" and not being able to find it. It also may come in handy for future research projects. Donít discard your working bibliography after completing your research; instead, keep it on file so that you can consult it again if you need to.

Your working bibliography should include complete information for each source, so you can write your citations easily. This information includes the authorís name, the title of the work, the title of the book or periodical it comes from (if applicable), the volume and issue number, the place of publication, the publishing company, the date of publication, inclusive page numbers, and the medium of publication. Note any other information that pertains to the workís publication, such as whether itís a volume in a series, an edition other than the first, or a translation. Write down the information for each source as you begin using it. You can also keep your working bibliography on a computer file, which makes it easy to transfer into your final draft later on. In addition, itís very helpful to keep printouts or photocopies of all your sources; this will allow you to check quotations, paraphrases, and bibliographic information later on.

Keeping Track of Source Materials: The Research Portfolio

As an ethical researcher, you should establish good research habits and stick to them. A research project, even a relatively small one involving only a few sources, quickly accumulates materials. There is no cut-and-dried rule for how to keep these materials organized, but keeping some form of research portfolio is important. This portfolio should include:

Organize your portfolio so that it is both comprehensive (containing all your materials) and manageable (designed for easy retrieval of information). As you become more experienced at research, you will develop a type of research portfolio that works for you. However, there are some basic principles that are important to keep in mind as you collect data. These not only help keep you organized, but also help you avoid inadvertent plagiarism because they are aimed at recording what you find through research both precisely and accurately. This lessens the chances that you will unintentionally express someone elseís idea and claim it as your own. (For more information on this, see the section "Taking Notes.")