We, the librarians, are glad to be part of this exciting research that you will be doing regarding the two african cultural groups Yoruba and Berber. On this occasion we are going to look closer on what it means to do a proper bibliography, which is included in Criterion C. And to get you going with the information seeking process, we will also look at a few suggestions regarding sources for your work.
When you are writing some sort of essay or report in school, you need to be able to show where that information comes from. This is presented in a list of references or a bibliography. A bibliography is important due to at least two grounds:
- It has to do with Academic honesty which means not to break any academic rules such as plagiarism or cheating in any way.
- To show the reader where you got your information from. The sources that you use will, among other things, give the reader a hint of what quality your research holds (besides from the way it is written etc.)
There are lots of different styles when it comes to sourcing. At ISGR we use MLA (Modern Language Association). As a guide we have been using Purdue University’s online writing lab. There you can find many examples on how to refer to different sources.
Let’s have a look!
How do we start with our research?
To get to know the topic we always recommend to start with a reliable encyclopedia. Through our library we have access to the English and the American encyclopedias Britannica and Worldbook (In these it is actually shown how to refer to the actual page with the MLA system).
After reading those (or other reliable basic sources) you gain more knowledge and you are more likely to find good information in other sources when you wish to dig further into the topic. This is important because of two things:
- When you have gained knowledge about a topic you are more likely to know where to look for further information and which key words/search terms to use when you are searching in different databases, Google or other search engines. What kind of key words do you think are valuable for your research?
- And also, when you browse through different webpages you need to have a source critical approach, and prior knowledge is often a very important part of source criticism.
Another useful source to start with might be Ebsco, which is another database that the library provides access to (in Ebsco, choose Middle Search Plus).
These databases are a good choice to start off with. They provide a framework and tools to help you in your search process, tools that search engines online don’t usually have. If you do go online and use, for example Google, you might find very good sites which can be very helpful. But you might also come across homepages that aren’t reliable. When you visit a website you can always ask a few source critical questions which will help you in this matter.
- What can you find about the author or the organization behind the webpage? That is often presented in a link called contact or about us.
If you can’t find any information, there is a reason to be skeptical. If there is a presentation, can you find out some more about the author/organization from other sources to see if the presentation is reliable?
- Can you draw any conclusions about the URL/web adress?
- Is the website up to date?
If the website hasn’t been updated for a period of time, it is possible that the information is outdated, new information may have contributed to new perspectives to te topic, and there might be other sources that are more useful for you.