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6.4: Assignment: Writing an Annotated Bibliography

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    6506
  • As you conduct your research for your research writing project, compile an annotated bibliography with 15-20 entries.  Each entry in your annotated bibliography should contain a citation, a brief summary of the cited material.  You will be completing the project in phases and a complete and revised version of it will be due when you have completed your research.

    You should think of your annotated bibliography as having roughly twice as many sources as the number of sources you will need to include for the research project, but your instructor might have a different requirement regarding the number of sources required.

    Also, you should work on this assignment in parts.  Going to the library and trying to complete this assignment in one sitting could turn this into a dreadful writing experience. However, if you complete it in stages, you will have a much better understanding of how your resources relate to each other.  

    You will probably need to discuss with your instructor the style of citation you need to follow for your research project and your annotated bibliography.  Following a citation style isn’t difficult to do, but you will want to be consistent and aware of the “rules” from the beginning.  In other words, if you start off using MLA style, don’t switch to APA style halfway through your annotated bibliography or your research project.

    Hyperlink: For an explanation of the differences of and the guidelines for using both MLA and APA style, see Chapter 12, “Citing Your Researching Using MLA or APA Style.”

    Last, but not least, you will need to discuss with your instructor the sorts of materials you need to include in your research and your annotated bibliography.  You may be required to include a balance of research from scholarly and non-scholarly sources, and from “traditional” print resources (books, magazines, journals, newspapers, and so forth) and the Internet.

    Questions to ask while writing and researching
    • Would you classify the material as a primary or a secondary source?  Does the research seem to be difficult to categorize this way? (For more information on primary and secondary sources, see Chapter 1, “Thinking Critically About Research” and the section “Primary versus Secondary Research”).
    • Is the research from a scholarly or a non-scholarly publication?  Does the research seem difficult to categorize this way?
    • Is the research from the Internet—a web page, a newsgroup, an email message, etc.?  Remember:  while Internet research is not necessarily “bad” research, you do need to be more careful in evaluating the credibility of Internet-based sources. (For more information on evaluating Internet research, see Chapter 1, “Thinking Critically About Research,” and the sections “The Internet:  The Researcher’s Challenge” and “Evaluating the Quality and Credibility of Your Research.”
    • Do you know who wrote the material you are including in your annotated bibliography?  What qualifications does your source say the writer has?
    • Why do you think the writer wrote it?  Do they have a self-interest or a political viewpoint that might make them overly biased?
    • Besides the differences between scholarly, non-scholarly, and Internet sources, what else do you know about where your research was published?  Is it an academic book?  An article in a respected journal?  An article in a news magazine or newspaper?
    • When was it published?  Given your research topic, how important do you think the date of publication is?
    • Are you keeping your summaries brief and to the point, focusing on the point your research source is trying to make?
    • If it’s part of the assignment, are you including a sentence or two about how you see this piece of research fitting into your overall research project?
    Revision and Review

    Because of its ongoing nature, revising an annotated bibliography is a bit different than the typical revision process. Take opportunities as you compile your annotated bibliography to show your work in progress to your classmates, your instructor, and other readers you trust.  If you are working collaboratively on your research projects, you will certainly want to share your annotated bibliography with classmates who are working on a similar topic.  Working together like this can be a very useful way to get more ideas about where your research is going.

    It is best to approach the annotated bibliography in smaller steps—five or six entries at a time.  If that’s how you’re approaching this project, then you will always be in a process of revision and review with your classmates and your instructor.  You and your readers (your instructor and your classmates) should think about these questions as you revise, review, and add entries:

    • Are the summaries you are including brief and to the point?  Do your readers understand what the cited articles are about?
    • Are you following a particular style guide consistently?
    • If you are including a sentence or two about each of your resources, how do these sentences fit with your working thesis?  Are they clarifying parts of your working thesis that were previously unclear?  Are they suggesting changes to the approach you took when you began the research process?
    • Based on the research you have so far, what other types of research do you think you need to find?
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