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The best way to keep a Bibliography as you work

A bibliography is a collection of the sources used when preparing for an assignment. This includes those that were not referenced in text but still helped with idea formation. Although bibliographies are an essential part of our academic life, many of us fail to keep track. In the end, we rush to compile our bibliographies, and can fail to format our citations correctly when confronted with a long list of sources to organise. In this article, we have some tips for keeping track of those sources for your bibliography.

First, start early. The sooner you get organised and build a good habit of keeping track of your sources, the easier it will be to compile your bibliography later. This is absolutely essential if you’re working on multiple assignments at once, or a big research project. Unlike a reference list, with a bibliography it’s important to keep track of the material that helped you form your ideas, which is why starting early is key. However, if you’ve already started the research process, still take some time to pause and get your current sources organised.

Second, familiarise yourself with your referencing format. Later, we’ll discuss citation generators and reference management but it’s always good to ensure you’re up to date with how things work. This allows you to spot if there’s details missing from your citations. Likewise, this knowledge can help you present your final bibliography in the correct format. For example, APA requires references to be indented and double spaced. This information can help you to compile a professional looking bibliography, and show your ability to pay attention to detail.

Third, find a system that works for you. There are a few digital tools out there, genei included. Zotero and Mendeley are two popular tools for collecting, organising and referencing your research papers. These tools support word processors, allowing you to insert citations directly into your document. You can keep track of your ideas by highlighting and annotating PDFs within the software too. Likewise, our tool at genei allows you to organise, annotate and cite your sources in one place. You can research, plan and write in genei with its word processing and note-taking functionality.

However, genei also aims to make the research process more efficient with AI-powered summarisation, keyword extraction and search features. You can find related reading by following the reference lists from one paper to another, and form your ideas by creating linked notes between multiple sources. You can easily generate citations for your current paper, and related papers in the overview tab. It's a good idea to try using such tools early on to figure out what you like, so you can develop a consistent and efficient system.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more hands-on, non-digital approach, you can use flashcards. The bibliography card method can help you keep track of your sources and related ideas. It’s important to stay on top of the process and create a card each time you come across a source.Or, if you don't mind going digital but prefer not to use a dedicated research tool, then software like Notion is a good option. You can take a similar ‘card’ style approach that can be organised using tags. Notion is a useful tool for planning and organising your studies in general, so it might be a good idea to even use this tool alongside the reference managers we discussed above. You can learn more here: Notion Bibliography Template, Build a Bibliography in Notion and Use Notion for Research

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