As we move on to the final stages of our Musical Geographies class, I have assumed the specialist role of “bibliographer.” This means that I survey all of our data entries and compile a comprehensive bibliography of every source we have used in our research. This is a satisfying yet frustrating job because I get to create an extensive list of sources but am also responsible for ensuring that the list is consistent and accurate. Hundreds (thousands?) of data entries all made by 12 different people can be impressive and fun to explore but the inconsistencies that present themselves are infuriating to rectify. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve done my work as bibliographer, it’s that we should always make clean and accurate citations the first time we put in data. By doing this, we avoid the risk of forgetting about sources we originally used if we make citations later and ensure that if we do need to look back at our work, we know exactly what we looked through in the first place. Incomplete and messy citations have been the bane of my work thus far.
Despite these frustrations, being the bibliographer has also come with fun learning experiences: I’ve learned some of the finer nuances of creating citations. This LibGuide on Chicago style citation, provided by Lorain County Community College, has a section titled “Elements of Citation” which has proved to be invaluable in my work. It details the most intricate parts of Chicago style such as punctuation and syntax which I normally wouldn’t think about so intently when citing sources. These intricacies have, actually, been fun to explore.
In addition to learning about those intricacies, being the bibliographer has introduced me to a whole new style of bibliography. Usually, my “bibliography” is just a works cited page. The difference between the two lies in the fact that a full bibliography is a compilation of works consulted, while a works cited is just that: works cited. As you can see from the picture below (of the unfinished version of the bibliography), however, what I am creating is much more than a works cited page. It has been frustrating because it’s new, yet fun because I get to organize and format – something I love to do. My knowledge of this type of bibliography will certainly be useful in my future as a musicologist or librarian!
A final piece of advice I have for those who are doing their own research, whether with a group or alone: ensure that data input is consistent and easy to follow. This goes hand in hand with what I discussed earlier in this blog post but it bears repeating. While it’s near impossible to ensure that everyone in a group of 12 people cites the exact same way, it pays to at least have thorough work across the board. All cells in a spreadsheet should be filled in for clarity’s sake; all cells should have as complete data as possible; all citations should be the same style and correct. Doing all these things the first time around saves a boatload of headache later in the project. Trust me – I would know.