Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Creating a Bibliography for an Anthropology Essay


Learning about cultures helps students understand how social and family bonds are formed. It helps students empathize with other cultures. Studying anthropology is a broad area and there are many topics to chose from within this subject. Generally, this subject is an elective, but you will learn many interesting things if you chose this course.

Student working Bibliography for an Anthropology Essay

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is defined as the study of human beings. Since anthropology is such a broad subject, the first thing you need to do is narrow down your topic. There are four major fields in anthropology:

  • Biological
  • Cultural
  • Linguistic
  • Archaeology

Each of these fields cover different aspects of anthropology and use different research methods. Your teacher will provide you with a syllabus and topic ideas.

Anthropology Essay Ideas

Remember when you select your topic, you want a subject that has a lot of current sources.  Here are a few starting points:

  • Margaret Mead
  • Family Ties
  • Non-kinship social groups
  • How television affects American Culture
  • Compare and contrast two cultures
  • East Coast/West Coast or Northern/Southern – United States
  • Rural and urban cultures

With so many subjects to choose from, you will need to narrow your topic down, to make your research manageable.

Researching Biological, Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology Topics

A good way to start your research is to find secondary sources, such as reference works, magazine articles, and information websites such as InfoPlease.

Google Scholar is another good starting point.

Articles and encyclopedias will refer to primary sources, such as research studies, images, and audio recordings. Follow those links to find current, relevant sources for your bibliography.

Your school or public library provides free access to paid academic databases, such as Science Direct, AnthroSource and others.

These databases contain original research papers via authoritative sources like peer-reviewed journals. Reading the abstracts is an easy way to skim through information to find relevant information for your essay.

Ask your librarian for help. Many libraries have online reference librarians available, including the Library of Congress’ Ask A Librarian site.


These websites can get you started on your research. Remember you need to find primary sources for your paper.

Chicago or MLA Style

Anthropology research essays may be formatted in MLA, using a Works Cited page or in Chicago/Turabian style.  This article focuses on creating a Chicago/Turabian style Bibliography. These search techniques will work for any style or topic.

This bibliography example will focus on the sub field of archaeology, with a topic of housing structures for the Diné tribe, also known as Navajo.

Search Strategy

Here is an example of a search strategy for sources on an essay about how housing structures developed by Diné people.

web search using keyword– Navajo housing

This general search term will take you to the Navajo Nation government websites but keep scrolling to find the information you want like this site, Navajo People. Since the website domain is .org, that lends authority to the source.

The About page confirms the authority of the content creators.

Content for this site is provided by Clayton Long, Navajo Language Curriculum Designer and Bilingual Ed. Director for San Juan School District and Harold Carey, a Navajo Historian and Photojournalist from Malad City, Idaho.

As you search through the site, you will find primary sources, such as images. You will also learn the name of the traditional housing structure for the Diné is ‘hogan’.  Knowing that will help guide your search. Consider searching the authors’ names for additional research.

Note:  Navajo as a keyword rather than Diné, as it more commonly used.


Then in Google Scholar, enter the keywords Navajo AND Hogan to find primary sources for this topic. This entry shows a primary source of research on the Hogan.

Alkidaa’da hooghanee (They Used to Live Here): An archaeological study of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Navajo hogan households and federal Indian …KF Thompson – 2009 – repository.arizona.edu

As Athapaskan-speaking people with a lifestyle distinct from other Southwestern groups,
Navajos, upon entering the Southwest in the sixteenth century, are thought to have begun a
process of culture change that persists to this day. The anthropological view of Navajo …

  Cited by 1 Related articles All 3 versions 

Click on the Related articles link and you will find several other primary sources. Follow each thread, read summaries and abstracts until you find bibliographic sources for your anthropology essay.

Preliminary Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of all the sources you researched for your essay. As you research your sources, start a preliminary bibliography of every source you find in your search. Make sure you note these elements:

  • Author, Editor, Translator
  • Date of Publication
  • Edition
  • Volume
  • Series
  • Publisher’s name
  • Place of Publisher (location)

As you work through your search strategy and develop your bibliography for your anthropology essay, you will find interesting facts to build reader interest. Your teacher will be happy too.

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About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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