Using Bibliographies

As you are researching a topic, you might want to use any of these tools:

Sadie, to find books and videos in our library
Periodical indexes, to find articles in journals or magazines
Internet, to find resources via the World Wide Web

But there is another resource that can provide a wealth of valuable information -- bibliographies!

A bibliography is a list of resources (usually articles and books) on a particular topic. If you can find a bibliography on your topic, you will save yourself a lot of time trying to evaluate which resources are the best.

There are 3 major sources for bibliographies.

Type Description Example
Published bibliographies These books (sometimes articles) are published to help people do research on a specific topic by listing the most important books or articles on the topic. The topic is sometimes very precise. Matrology: A Bibliography of Writings by Christian Women From the First to the Fifteenth Centuries
Specialized encyclopedias or dictionaries Brief bibliographies are included at the end of most entries. The books or articles listed here are probably the best resources available on the topic. The Encyclopedia of Psychology
Footnotes or bibliographies in books and articles Scholarly books always include footnotes and bibliographies to indicate what other resources were used in writing the book or article. Because the author is an expert on the topic, you can assume that he or she chose good resources; therefore those books or articles might be valuable for your research, too. Many books in the main collection are scholarly books.


Save yourself a lot of valuable research time by taking advantage of the research somebody else has already done! You don't need to reinvent the wheel!

Primary and Secondary Sources

An assignment may require you to use both primary and secondary sources. Do you know the difference between them?

Primary sources are documents like diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper articles, scientific research, and pieces of art. They are records of events, or represent the original thoughts of the author or researcher.

Secondary sources refer back to primary sources in order to evaluate, compare or refute them. A secondary source uses footnotes and a bibliography to inform you of what primary sources were used.

Most books in a library are secondary sources (except for books of statistics). Primary sources are much harder to find because often there is only one occurrence of the item (only one copy of the letter or diary, etc). Historical and archival collections specialize in primary sources.

You are at the end of Module 7!


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