Research Bibliography


The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate competency in using the library for academic research and to compile a list (bibliography) in MLA format of potential sources you might use for your research essay. The research bibliography is a very common academic genre that demonstrates that you have conducted significant and in-depth research on your research question, and therefore are poised to write about it with credibility, accuracy, and precision.

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A good guideline for finding sources for an academic research essay is that you should closely evaluate in detail three times as many sources as you will end up using. For instance, for a biology lab report where you are required to use two scientific studies as support, you would closely evaluate six studies on your topic to decide which is the most relevant to your specific experiment. If you were writing an ethics position paper on climate change and you were required to use four peer-reviewed academic journal articles, you would need to closely evaluate twelve articles that address your central idea in order to decide which four would be most effective in your essay. This process of careful evaluation should be applied to any academic context where you are required to use primary and/or secondary sources to address a specific assignment or topic.

For our final assignment, an academic research essay, the potential sources you choose to evaluate closely should help you to advocate for the best “answer” to your research question(s). Depending on your topic and your academic context, choose the option below that will help you most effectively provide evidence for your research project. One option isn’t “better” or “easier” than the other–they simply serve different needs.

You will submit for this assignment:

A list (bibliography) in MLA format of the potential sources for your essay. The list should follow option A or option B below.


List of Option A or Option B, students using the library

Option A


Option B


2 books or ebooks

2 Peer-Reviewed Academic Journal Articles

2 additional sources of your choice


2 Peer-Reviewed Academic Journal Articles

2 sources from .gov, .edu, or .org (government, education, or organization) websites or publications

2 additional sources of your choice


For this option, you will include 6 potential sources on your Research Bibliography. For the research essay, you will narrow it down to a minimum of one book, one peer-reviewed journal article, and one additional source of your choice (can be another book, journal article, website, personal interview, etc.).


For this option, you will include 6 potential sources on your Research Bibliography. For the research essay, you will narrow it down to one peer-reviewed academic journal article, one source from a .gov, .edu, or .org website/publication, and one additional source of your choice (can be another book, journal article, website, personal interview, etc.).


Student Example: Research Bibliography

Assignment Rubric

A Research Bibliography that “Achieves Excellence” will be distinguished in the following criteria: (*Note: 50% of the grade for this assignment is correct MLA formatting for the document and for your citations.)

The writer includes the correct number of potential sources in the Research Bibliography.
The writer’s potential sources match either Option A or Option B.
The writer’s bibliography adheres to MLA format for the citations and the format of the entire document. **You should use your Norton Little Seagull Handbook.
The writer’s bibliography conforms to the topic and scope he or she identified in the research topic proposal.
The writer’s sources clearly relate to the research topic and question(s).
The writer’s research bibliography clearly illustrates his or her understanding of academic context.
The writer submits a photo of him or herself in the library stacks checking out a book for his or her research essay or using the library’s other resources in the library to find sources for his or her research essay.

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