Tips on Constructing Your Bibliography

Having discussed the construction of your thesis bibliography in the previous section, what follows is a quick list of points to which you can refer when you are compiling your bibliography:

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  • Remember that it is never too early to begin your bibliography, in fact it should begin the day that you begin to compile your thesis.
  • The bibliography must contain every book to which you refer during the research and writing of your Ph.D. thesis.
  • Keep a constant and continuous record of all your reading from whatever source and keep this up until the day you finally submit your thesis.
  • Remember that it is vital to reference your texts in the style required by your college or university (see the section on referencing in this guide).
  • Subdivide your bibliography into primary and secondary sources, deciding on the method which works best for your particular thesis. a primary source would be one to which you have referred directly and/or from which you have quoted; a secondary source would be one which you have consulted but to which you have not actually directly referred.
  • Suggested subsequent divisions or categorisations that you could make include:
    • a. differentiating between fiction and non-fiction
    • b. dividing critical works from texts such as novels or other prose works.
    • c. separating works according to their particular topic
    • d. categorising works by author
    • e. collecting sources under relevance to a particular aspect of your work
  • As you can see, there are many ways that you can choose to separate your bibliography and it is vital to get it right.
  • Consult your supervisor before making a final decision about how to structure your bibliography as there may be a specific method laid down by your college or university which you must follow.

The importance of the bibliography in your Ph.D. thesis cannot be overestimated as it is the backbone of your research and stands as a record of your work over a number of years, complementing and informing the writing you have done. For this reason, if for no other, the bibliography must be a priority in your thesis.

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