Editor’s Toolkit: Compiling a List of General References

Being grounded in research is a standard of quality for academic works. Writers are usually very familiar with parenthetical citations and footnotes, and when these should be included. However, authors sometimes have a more difficult time knowing when and how to include general references for content that does not have quotes, excerpts, or make clear references to the work of others.

Many authors write chapters, or even whole texts, that are the culmination of their own studies and academic careers, or their work as practitioners in a particular field. All these experiences contribute to a broad and deep knowledge base that informs the author’s own written work.

In such cases, a general list of references at the end of each chapter, or even at the end of the book, is recommended. The list is needed to indicate that while the author is well-educated and well-informed about the ideas and information presented in the content, the author is not the original creator of the ideas or gatherer of the information.

Such references might include:

  • textbooks the author has previously used in class, particularly if a book has content or an approach that has influenced the author’s own ideas and content;
  • books from the author’s personal library;
  • books from the author’s professional library;
  • articles from peer-reviewed journals that the author has read over the years and found to be particularly informative;
  • articles from reputable news media;
  • articles from reputable publications that are written for the general audience;
  • conference papers and presentations;
  • reputable online publications, particularly those connected to professional organizations or associations;
  • materials from professional development opportunities;
  • TED Talks;
  • reputable podcasts.

Taking time to compile a general list of references, whether by chapter or for inclusion at the end of the book, adds professionalism and credibility, and acknowledges that the experiences and scholarship of others have contributed to one’s own.