Bibliographic Essay Example History Ia

Dr. Beth M. Sheppard, a librarian at United Library at the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary has written an excellent essay on the bibliographic essay. She describes very clearly the differences and similarities among book reviews, annotated bibliographies, and articles. Her article is only 3 pages long and easy to read and understand. If you want a good grade for this assignment, it's imperative that you read this article and fully understand what you will be writing. After you have read the article, I would suggest you review some of the BEs I have linked for you under Examples. Below is the link to Dr. Sheppard's article:

To synthesize Dr. Sheppard's article, the required elements of a bibliographic essay are:

  • the essay should be well ordered and follow a planned scheme
  • the resources discussed should flow easily from one to the next;large gaps in the discussion disrupts the reader
  • keep in mind that you are selecting the BEST resources to include; assume you are creating a list of the best materials available on a topic in order to recommend to a colleague; do not limit your list to print sources-- other formats are perfectly acceptable
  • how do these resources compare and fit
  • introduce your essay telling the reader what the context is for the particular study
  • a closing statement is also appropriate
  • use appropriate grammar and writing style; there are several very good writing manuals

In addition to Dr. Sheppard's recommendations, I would add these:

  • use the assigned style sheet (APA, MLA, Chicago) or select the most appropriate if given a choice by your professor
  • check in at the reference desk for writing and style manuals if you don't already own one

Referencing your sources

Plagiarism: the representation, intentionally or unwittingly, of the ideas, words or work of another person without proper, clear and explicit acknowledgment.

Accurate and thorough referencing is paramount to a successful History IA. Referencing is a system that allows you to acknowledge the contributions of others in your writing. Whenever you use ANY words, ideas or information from ANY source in your work, you must reference those sources. This means that if you use the exact words of an author, if you paraphrase their words or if you summarise their ideas, you must provide a reference. Not referencing your sources means you may be charged with plagiarism and your work could be failed. (Source)

Why cite?  (Source)
  • To show respect for the work of others.
  • To give the reader the opportunity to follow up references.
  • To help a reader to distinguish between the work of the creator and the work of others.
  • To give the reader the opportunity to check the validity of creator’s interpretation.
  • To receive proper credit for the research process.
  • To establish credibility and authority of own knowledge and ideas.

You need to cite extensively in Section 2, and if appropriate, in Section 1 and 3 too. It's better to 'over-cite' than 'under-cite'. Keep track of your citations as you go, because having to go back and add citations later is time-consuming, difficult and annoying..... to put it mildly.

The IB does not prescribe a specific reference system, it only specifies that you have to be consistent in whichever system you use.

The referencing system that you choose will depend on a few factors:
  • Ask your teacher, will the citation system be specified?
  • Does your school have a prescribed citation system?
  • Different countries tend to favour/favor different citation systems.
  • Which university do you plan to attend? It could be useful to adopt the preferred citation system of your chosen university so that you are well prepared for future academic writing. (Note that different schools or faculties within the university may have different referencing systems)

You have to get in to good habits straight away. Write down page numbers and books from which you get your sources. If you don't, you will only suffer later. Use a Word document, an online citation app, software program, Evernote (online note keeping) or keep a paper notebook with all your references.

If you are taking photo copies from a book, always copy the inside page with the copyright information too.

Before handing in your work, submit it to Turnitin. Ask your teacher about this. 

Two main systems of referencing

You have two options: inline citation (Harvard, 2016) or footnoting (1)

In-text citation
The MLA and APA styles require you to use in-text citations, which are citations placed in parentheses within the body of your paper. For example
(Surname, 2013). Common in-text citation formats are MLA (Modern Language Association) style; which is primarily used for papers in the humanities; APA (American Psychological Association) style, which is primary used for papers in the social sciences. (Source)
These styles are similar to Harvard referencing.

This system uses small superscript numbers which refer to the reference at the bottom of the page. Common names are the Oxford system and Chicago style. Other footnote styles are: Turabian, Vancouver style, IEEE and MHRA. Word can insert footnotes automatically. 

Your teacher will provide your with the style manual for your reference system. You will also be able to find a lot of resources online. (Use university websites!)

Citation wizards
It is a good idea to use a citation wizard or software, particularly for your first few references. Once you know how to construct a reference, you can do it by yourself. The advantage of a citation wizard is that the reference will be constructed following the rules of your chosen citation system, this is a good way to keep your referencing consistent. Remember, every comma, full stop and space matters. Don't forget the page numbers either. Easy to use. Make sure to choose your preferred style (default is Harvard). This site will "auto cite" websites and books. Sign in to keep track of your citations.
The best style for footnotes is Turabian, it generates a footnote entry and a bibliography entry. Bibme Type in the title of a book and it will create the citation from a database. Be careful though that you have the right edition etc. Also, it only seems to work with the bigger books. Never the less, it is a very useful wizard. Don't forget to choose the preferred style on the right hand side (MLA, APA, Chicago) The Citation Machine is simple and effective. Choose between MLA, APA (in-text) or Chicago (Footnotes), fill out the required info and the citation will be created.

There are many more citation wizards and your school may have its own preferred system (like RefWorks).


A bibliography is not the same as footnotes or in-text citation.
​You must provide a separate bibliography. For exact specifications, look up the style guide for your chosen referencing system (i.e. Harvard, Chicago, MLA, Turabian) for advice on how to create the bibliography.
Always consult your teacher for further guidance.

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