Doing the PhD

a PORT for Modern Languages tutorial

3 Building a bibliography

A bibliography is not just an appendix to be compiled in order to preserve an academic tradition; it represents an integral and fundamental part of any PhD.
It demonstrates your scientific, that is, rigorous, attitude, as well as the breadth and depth of your research. Moreover your bibliography will demarcate a specific field of knowledge that can become a valuable resource for other academics and readers pursuing similar interests. The function of a bibliography in combination with the footnotes is to enable your reader to find the original sources incorporated into your dissertation or thesis as easily and quickly as possible. The MHRA Style Book therefore recommends in its introduction to 'References', that you should always use British editions of books, published both overseas as well as in Britain, so that your reader will have easy access to these works in British libraries. 'If an edition other than the first is used, this should be stated. If an unrevised reprint is used, the publication details of the original edition as well as of the reprint should be given. Details of original publication should also be provided where an article from a journal is reprinted in a anthology' (See MHRA Style Book, Chapter 10.1 'References'). In other words, the bibliography is first of all a means for your reader to follow up on the documents on which your arguments are based, and it is important to make this process of retrieval as straightforward as possible.

On the following pages you can learn more about the main principles of working with bibliographies. The predominant style system applied in the UK in the field of humanities is the MHRA system and we have therefore devoted a whole separate section to its guidelines for formatting the single entries in a bibliography:

Prof. David Robey: - Computing in the Humanities - Sound File (14.6 Mb)