Make a Bibliography

Barnard: Lois Coleman, Librarian for the Sciences, 104 LeFrak Center, Office Hours: 11 AM – 6 PM M-F, 212-854-9095

Columbia College: Amanda Bielskas, Geology/Geosciences Librarian, 601 Schermerhorn, 854-6767,


PDF file of presentation

If you have a mentor already, the best way to get started with your library research is to get a paper or two, or a research proposal from your mentor. If the paper is very recent, you can do a really good job of obtaining the beginning of a bibliography by examining the references in that paper, particularly the references to aspects that you will be following on. When you get those references, you can check their references, and so on.

The Columbia Library system has a great web presence that makes searches much easier and also allows you to go into more recent papers than the key papers obtained from your mentors.

The Clio catalogue is very useful for finding books that cover your subject.

There is  wide range of  literature databases that this website gives you access to.

As you will see there is a myriad of choices in this section, and you should spend some time exploring in the context of your project. The tool that I find the most efficient for searches is the Web of ScienceGoogle scholar is becoming more useful  and finds  a similar set of articles  and now recognizes your CU affliation and links to the full text. However, it has fewer options than the Web of Science.

If you click on the arrow in the Google Scholar search box a more specific search menu pops up.

After finding articles of interest, look at the references cited (going backward in time) and the papers that cite the paper (going forward in time). The Elink feature allows you to access the article directly.

To put your search into a timely political framework, you might try searching the Newspaper abstracts:

You may want to consider using Zotero or  Endnote, software packages that can be linked to MS Word to manage your references. They allow you to create a reference data base, import references directly from several of the available search engines, and automatically creates a list of references in the correct format for you. If you think you will produce many documents with references in your future career, it may be worth learning it now. Columbia has a site licence for Endnote, it can be downloaded at

A good style sheet for references for the senior thesis is: Geology. See the follwoing website for examples:

Look for guidelines to citation formats also in How to write a thesis proposal.

Example Arsenic in Bangladesh: no references