Essay #5: Annotated Bibliography
Assignment: For this assignment, you will write an annotated bibliography in 500 to 750 words. Your annotated bibliography must contain at least four sources from four stories from your Backpack Literature Book.
Refer to Annotated Bibliography in the A Writer’s Reference Book.
What is an annotated bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, called the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
Why write an annotated bibliography?
In almost every academic discipline, scholars write and refer to annotated bibliographies in order to organize and orient their research. Scholars frequently use annotated bibliographies written by other scholars in order to get an overview of the topic they are researching and to locate sources that are actually relevant to their specific research topic, thesis, and/or questions. In many ways, annotated bibliographies are time saving tools. Instead of reading hundreds of books—90% of which a scholar might not need for her research—a researcher can simply read annotations that will conciselysummarize what various texts say (and how), and whether those texts might be worth reading in their entirety.
Annotated bibliographies are also used in order to organize large quantities of information into a single document that succinctly surveys the historical conversation around a particular academic interest. Scholars produce annotated bibliographies not only for other scholars, but also for themselves, in order to get a handle on all the various information that they’ve collected. By writing annotated bibliographies, a scholar can figure out how most strategically to use the information they’ve collected throughout their research, as well as how to situation their own work into the larger scholarly conversation. For example, scholars want to produce work that offers their fields something new. An annotated bibliography is a good way to track what has already been said and then figure out what still needs to be addressed.
Elements of an annotated bibliography:
- Format according to the appropriate citation style (MLA for our class)
- Each source has its own annotation
- Each annotation contains a summary or explanation of the work’s main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its claims—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source
- Each annotation also contains some rhetorical analysis or verification or critique of the argument as well as the authority or qualifications of the author—who is the author and what are her qualifications? Are they a leader in the field? A doctoral student? Is this source commonly cited or is it obscure (you can often verify this through Google scholar)? What is the point of view or perspective from which the work was written? For instance, you may note whether the author seemed to have particular biases or was trying to reach a particular audience
- Each annotation also includes some sort of synthesis by commenting on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work in terms of your own research project. How does this work impact your research? How might you use it to make your own argument? You may also want to make relevant connections between this work and other works on your list (compare/contrast). Is it an extension of the argument made in another, previously published piece you are using? Is it a strong counterargument to something else on your list? Is it better used for background information than for helping you make your argument?
A good annotated bibliography:
- Encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas
- Proves you have read and understand your sources
- Establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher
- Situates your study and topic in a continuing professional conversation
- Provides a way for others to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research if they read it
- Could help interested researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of work going on in a field
- Includes concise and precise annotations
Form and Audience:
For this class, your annotated bibliography should be organized in paragraph form (one or two paragraphs per entry, roughly 150 to 200 words, depending). The audience is an academic one that is interested in the same topic as you and might want to know more about your sources. You are providing a succinct summary and evaluation for them. The rhetorical choices you make in your annotations should make your audience clear.
Four bibliographic entries
At least two scholarly sources
MLA formatting and citation