Creating a bibliography guides your readers to all the sources you have consulted or used in your research. As you prepare your research paper, you look for sources that will back up your thesis statement. You may realize as you work through this process, though, that you need to revise your thesis or the way you present your arguments. Developing a preliminary or working bibliography allows you to gather your thoughts while you work through your research paper. One way you help your reader understand your research process is to section your bibliography by author or subject.
Heading Your Bibliography Sections
Sectioning your notes-biblio style bibliography is a design choice you make to guide your reader. Your reader needs to understand why and how you chose to section the bibliography. Write a head note underneath your bibliography title explaining your thought process and how it helps the reader.
For example, if you chose to section your bibliography by author, write a short head note explaining that each author’s contribution to a certain aspect of the subject led you to this format. If you have sources from many places, you may choose to section your bibliography by location or type of source, such as archival materials, websites, and print materials.
Creating an Author Section
As you develop your research skills and focus on a particular subject in your field, you’ll see the same author names pop up again and again. Well-known in their respective fields, these researchers are reputable and upheld as authorities in particular subjects. Including research by these authors helps you evaluate their authority in the subject.
As you know, you must provide your reader with a clear, easy to understand way to follow your research path. Creating sections by authors, who are authorities in their fields, helps your reader gain an understanding of the experts in the subject. If your reader is using your research to further their own research, this format guides them to these experts.
Subdividing Bibliographies by Source
Bibliographies and reference lists are sorted alphabetically. This creates some difficulty when you have sources that do not fit well into an alphabetized list. In this case, you may create your bibliography sections by sources. What does this mean?
Simply put, you will divide your bibliography into sections that make it easiest for your reader to find your sources. Here are some examples:
- Archival Manuscripts
- Artistic Works
- General Reference Works
- Online Sources
You may also create subdivisions within your sections. For example, General Reference Works may be subdivided into categories such as dictionaries and encyclopedias or by subject such as ecology and geography.
Other Ways to Subdivide Bibliographies
You may consider creating sections by subject. For example, if you write about literary characters, create a section about each character. Or, if you write a paper about a particular author, such as Charles Dickens, you may create separate sections for books he wrote and books written about him.
One of the most common methods of sectioning is by works you’ve consulted and works you’ve actually used within your paper. This method makes it easier for the reader to follow notes directly to the bibliography.
While subdividing your bibliography, follow basic rules on alphabetizing and organizing each section. Alphabetize each section individually and place each source within one section only. If you create subdivisions, alphabetize within the subdivision. Remember to write a heading to explain your thought process so your reader will understand the structure of your notes bibliography.
Creating sections within your bibliography can make it easier for your reader to find your sources; however, it is not required. As always, follow your instructor’s guidance while developing, researching and writing your school research paper.