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Bibliography or References

What is the difference between bibliography and references (list)?

My short answer is as follows:

Bibliography is the list of ALL DOCUMENTS you consulted for writing the essay/paper/dissertation or thesis.

However, you may only cited some of all documents you read/consulted. These cited documents are in your References.

Source: Australian National University (ANU) – Academic Skills & Learning Centre, Division of Student Services.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dr Jon Evans #

    The Australian National University have got it wrong. If you would like clarification I can recommend Turabian’s ‘Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.’

    Basically, a reference list is given if the Harvard or Chicago reference style is used in the text and it can bear the title: References, Works Cited, Literature Cited or some variation as appropriate.

    A bibliography is used mainly in nonscientific writing, especially in the humanities. It lists the sources used in writing the paper. Since a bibliography can never be inclusive of everything consulted in the writing it can more accurately be title: Selected Bibliography, Works Cited, or Sources Consulted. The MHRA Style Guide, which is used in the humanities, advises that ‘works not specifically referred to should not be included; if necessary, important items not cited in the main text could be mentioned in the introduction and therefore qualify for inclusion.’ You could also mention works for inclusion in the bibliography in a reasonable footnote.

    So, basically, the difference is that ‘bibliographies’ are used in the humanities while ‘references’ are used in the sciences. Why? Because they use different referencing systems.

    October 10, 2012
    • Thanks Jon. I found that explanation as well. However, many books and theses in humanities use references. 🙂

      October 31, 2012
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