Does this situation sound familiar? You spend the day or evening at the library searching for and identifying resources relevant to your research project. Then, hours or days later, you review your notes and photocopies… only to realize that you don’t have the bibliographic information needed to properly cite one of your key pieces of evidence.

Because you’re an honest researcher and writer, and you have no interest in plagiarizing or including insufficient documentation in your paper, you have limited choices: invest the time in finding the details you need in order to credit the source… or, omit the source from your work entirely. Because the latter option is unappealing (and perhaps unacceptable or unfeasible), you return to the original books, files, or databases, and try to track down the missing piece of information.

Whether or not you’ve lived through this scenario yourself, you can recognize how frustrating it would be. And, almost certainly, you want to help your students avoid the possibility of placing themselves in this situation.

In order to avoid this situation, it helps to follow a system that assists you in collecting the information in a consistent manner. In The Wadsworth Guide to Research, Second Edition, Susan Miller-Cochran and Rochelle Rodrigo provide a helpful checklist that students can use as they review the many resources they’ll find and gather for their research projects. By completing this checklist for each resource, students can be more certain that they’ve captured the bibliographic information that they’ll need as they create their lists of references.


  • Date you found the resource:
  • Name of the resource/article/book chapter/web page/blog entry:
  • Journal (page no., volume no., issue no.):
  • Book:
  • Web site/blog title:
  • Author:
  • Editor:
  • Publisher and place of publication (city):
  • Owner/webmaster of the web site:
  • Date of publication/copyright/posting to the Web (day/month/year):
  • Medium of publication:
  • Name of library:
  • Name of database/search engine:
  • URL (web address), if needed:

(Miller-Cochran and Rodrigo, 132)


Reference: Miller-Cochran, Susan and Rochelle Rodrigo. 2014. The Wadsworth Guide to Research, Second Edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

© 2014 Cengage Learning.


What tips and strategies for research do you offer to your students? Share them in the comments section below.