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EOF: Academic Scholars Institute

Guide for the Educational Opportunity Fund programs on the Newark Campus

Ideas about Documenting Your Sources

Use a Working Bibliography to Save Time   (Adapted from Miller 418-420)

A "working bibliography" is a list of the sources you've found that you believe are most likely to give you the information you need. 

As you use the items, you can type in comments about each in a notes folder. Or, you can turn one copy of your working bibliography into your notes page while a second copy forms the basis of your bibliography or Works Cited page. With electronic documents, both of these variations and more are possible.

Organizing and Taking Notes to Avoid Plagiarism 

  • Make separate folders in your word processor or email account for each paper or project.

  • Document what you find as you go by sending references, abstracts (article summaries), and even full text to yourself as you discover them.  If you use RefWorks or another citation manager, export your items so that you keep track of everything.

  • Keep all your downloads, output from periodical indexes and databases, lists of sources, electronic documents, and notes you write for each project together in the same folder (Miller 419).

  • For your own protection, keep your searches, working bibliographies, note files, and versions of the paper until you receive your final grade for the course.

  • Take notes in a way that automatically avoids plagiarism. All you have to do is:

a) Key every one of your notes to a source and page number; and     

b) Differentiate clearly between the material you have quoted and your own words as you take notes.

Here is an example of a bibliography entry using a print periodical article in MLA 2009 format:


Miller, Kristin. "Developing Good Research Habits: Encourage Students to Create a Working Bibliography  Online." College & Research Libraries News. 61 (2000): 418-20. 

Your notes page might look like this:

Miller, 2000 [source]

p. 419 "Using e-mail to collect citations allows the researcher to reformat them into a working bibliography on the computer and operating system that will be used to do the majority of the word processing." [Quotation, fact or even paraphrase and exact page number]

My note:  You should save your electronic searches in your email, even if you print them out somewhere for convenience. [These are your own words and thoughts about what you have read. Invent your own code if you wish, but be sure to label your own words to keep them separate from what you have read. If you used a paraphrase/explanation in your own words, you would still give it an in-text citation, just like the direct quotation.]

What Needs to Be Cited  (Reformatted from an unpublished lesson by Dr. Carter Daniel, Rutgers Business School)

"You must acknowledge not just

  1. Direct quotations, but

  2. Paraphrases of what somebody else said even though you've re-phrased it in your own words,

  3. Ideas you've picked up from a source, and even

  4. Any fact that isn't common knowledge.

In short, you have to acknowledge everything you've gotten from a source." 

Works Cited

Daniel, Carter A. Personal interview, 8 Dec. 2009

Miller, Kristin. "Developing Good Research Habits: Encourage Students to Create a Working Bibliography Online." College & Research Libraries News. 61 (2000): 418-20. 


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