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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Further Readings

The purpose of this guide is to provide advice on how to develop and organize a research paper in the social sciences.

Definition

Further readings provide references to sources that the author has deemed useful to a reader seeking additional information or context about the research problem. They are items that are not essential to understanding the overall study or were cited as a source the author used or quoted from when writing the paper.

Structure and Writing Style

Depending on the writing style you are asked to use [e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA], a list of further readings should be located at the end of your paper after the endnotes or references but before any appendices. The list should begin under the heading "Further Readings." Items are generally arranged alphabetically by the author's last name but can be categorized under sub-headings by material type [e.g., books, articles, websites, etc.] or content type [e.g., theory, methods,etc.].

If you choose to include a list of further readings, keep in mind the following:

  1. The references to further readings are not critical to understanding the central research problem. In other words, if further readings were not included in your paper, the citations to sources used in writing the paper would be sufficient for the reader to evaluate the credibility of your literature review and analysis of the existing research on the topic.
  2. Although further readings represent additional or suggested sources, they still must be viewed as relevant to the research problem. Don't include further readings simply to show off your skills in searching for materials on your topic. Even though they may not be central to understanding the research problem, each further reading must relate in some way to helping the reader locate additional information or obtaining a broader understanding of the topic.
  3. Do not include basic survey texts or reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries. Including these types of sources in a list of further readings implies reference to either very general or very specific information that likely should have been integrated into the text of your paper.
  4. If you have identified non-textual materials related to your topic that may be of interest to the reader but were not used for your paper, consider including them in a list of further readings. This may include things like archival collections, documentary or popular films, photograph collections, audio files, or large data sets.

To identify possible titles to include in a list of further readings, examine the sources you found while researching your paper but that you ended up not citing as a source. Review these items and, playing the role of reader, think about which ones may provide additional insight or background information about the research problem you have investigated. Note that it is acceptable to include multimedia or digital sources if they meet the parameters for inclusion.


Soles, Derek. The Essentials of Academic Writing. 2nd edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning Houghton Mifflin, 2010; "Further Reading" and "Wikipedia Talk: Further Reading." Wikipedia.