Context. You have spent the last few weeks thinking and researching. Your annotated
bibliography gives you an opportunity to take stock of your sources so that you see what
sources you have, whether or not they are reliable and relevant, how you might use
them in your article, and what sources you still need to find.
What is an Annotated Bibliography? There are many different types of annotated
bibliographies and professors use the term in a variety of ways. Essentially, though, an
annotated bibliography is a document that lists sources on a particular topic/question
and offers a brief discussion of each source, summarizing that source and discussing
how it connects to the other sources and to the researcher’s own thinking-in-progress,
including her working thesis.
Why Write an Annotated Bibliography? Creating an annotated bibliography gives
structure and purpose to the (otherwise messy) research process. Writing an annotated
bibliography requires you, the researcher to read, think about and analyze each of your
sources, so that you are clear about how you will use them in your article. Often while
working on an annotated bibliography, a researcher realizes he/she cannot use a source
and/or needs additional (or different) sources. This kind of setback can be frustrating, but
necessary as you, the researcher, figure out what you really want to know–and argue.
What are the Components of an Annotated Bibliography?
● An Overview. This will be a paragraph or two in which you:
● Explain your topic, question and claim or working thesis (a “working”
thesis is what your thesis would be if you were to write the paper right
now. It’s called “working” because it might change)
● Summarize what you have found out so far from your sources what you
still want/need to find out – and where you might look.
● Then, list each of your sources in MLA format and, below EVERY source, write
1-2 paragraphs where you:
● Using terms from COR Chapter 5 (pp. 77-79), explain why this is a
relevant and reliable source (you may find sources that are not relevant or
reliable–but these are not worth listing in your annotated bibliography).
● Summarize the basic claim of the source. What did “they” say? Use They
Say, I Say templates in this summary.
● Respond to the source. What do “you” say? Use templates from Chapter
4 of They Say, I Say to agree, disagree, raise questions, etc.
● Plan. Explain how you will use this source in your research article. Be
● Synthesize. Explain the way this work fits with–or challenges–other
information you have about the topic.
How do I create an MLA Citation? Citations are important because they help
researchers organize and share information about sources in a standardized way. There
are many online resources that will help you create citations for your sources, including a
thorough guide at the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
How many sources do I need? You need enough sources to address your research
question from a variety of perspectives; 5 is the minimum. Annotated Bibliographies
with fewer than 5 sources will result in a 0.
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