Improving Observation Skills


Some people confuse the bibliography with the references.
Please click the buttons to check you understand the difference.

Research and background reading is essential for writing observations to help focus the aims of the observation and to give information for the evaluation.

You should include a list of all the books, articles from journals, newspapers, CD-Rom, Internet Sites and leaflets that you consulted to give information for the observation.
All sources of information should be included.

Writing the Bibliography

The convention used to write a bibliography is the Harvard System
The information sources are listed alphabetically by author's surname.

The Harvard System

The Harvard System includes 5 items so that sources of information can be traced easily and checked by the reader.

  1. Author's surname and initials
  2. Date of publication
  3. Title of the book
  4. Place published
  5. Publisher's name

All of the information you need for the bibliography is written on the first pages of the book just inside the cover.

For example:

A book

If you read a few pages of Patricia Geraghty's book, Caring for Children A Textbook for Nursery Nurses, you would include this in the bibliography.

Geraghty Author's surname
P Author's initial
1988 Date published
Caring for Children A Textbook for Nursery Nurses Title of the book
London Place published
Bailliere Tindall Publisher

If there are 2 authors then list both surnames and initials.
If there are more than 2 authors then list the first surname and initial followed by et al this means 'and the others'
If there is more than 1 edition of a book, it is helpful to say which edition is used.

An article in a journal or professional magazine

If you read an article by Dr Richard Woolfson in the Nursery World, you would include this in the bibliography giving all the information so that the reader can trace the article and read it for themselves.

Woolfson Author's surname
R Author's initial
18th April 1996 Date published you need to be precise because the Nursery World Journal is published each week
A co-ordinated Approach Title of the article published in Nursery World pages 12-13 Name of Journal and page numbers
London Place published
Nursery World Publications Publisher

An internet address

An internet address is different. It is given as the World Wide Web internet site address.
If you consulted the Child Development Institute of America and found a developmental sequence for children, you would include it in the bibliography to give the reader all the information they need to visit the site.

www. World Wide Web Child Development Institute
/devsequence Child Development Institute

It is not as complex as it seems at first!

  1. List all the sources of information you consulted.
  2. Use the Harvard System
    • Author
    • Date
    • Title
    • Place
    • Publisher
  3. Arrange the bibliography alphabetically by author's surname

Click to demonstrate the bibliography used in this learning resource

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