Research Paper Annotated Bibliography
Dr. Halbert's Courses

Overview: An annotated bibliography is a list of sources you discover through your own research.  The bibliography follows a required citation style: my classes use MLA style.  Each source should have a summary following it that allows anyone who might be interested in your topic to get a general idea of what the basic argument of the source is.

Step 1: Select a topic.  Make sure that your topic meets the minimum expectations for your subject as outlined by the assignment and requires a specific argument rather than just the presentation of information.

Step 2: Locate eight sources.  Find a mixture of books, journal articles, web pages, and internet sources. Avail yourself of the various research databases MCCC has access to.  Once you’ve found one or two sources, consider “mining” their own bibliographies for possible appropriate sources.  Your eight sources must include the following:

You may not use material from the class syllabus in your annotated bibliography, although you are encouraged to use some in your actual paper.
Bear in mind that you may not find eight sources that are directly related to your subject: you may have to think "laterally" about peripheral issues related to your topic.  Someone writing on Frederick Douglass might need to look up issues related to slavery, abolition, literacy, the Underground Railroad, women's rights, colonialism, the psychology of servitude, or any of a hundred related issues.  A specific source may not be directly about your subject, but it can be applied to that subject.

Once you have eight sources, you will need to select four of your sources for annotation.

Step 3: You will have two kinds of annotation to complete for this assignment:

First, all sources will be listed as in a bibliography or works cited in MLA format.

Annotation Type One: Decide which four sources sound the most promising or interesting and look at them up close. You don’t need to read these four books or articles all the way through. Look at introductions and conclusions and skim through the rest. Try to get a sense of the argument and approach of each of the pieces of scholarship. Synthesize what you learn about each of the texts, and record your findings as a short paragraph, not more than five or six sentences, about the source. This paragraph should be located immediately after the source you are summarizing. Think of this paragraph as your capsule description of the book or article, highlighting what is most worth mentioning about the piece of scholarship. They should give you (or another researcher looking at your bibliography) a snapshot of the source.  After the paragraph, give one quote from the source that you might use in your paper (don't forget to list the page number).

Annotation Type Two: Out of the four sources you annotated, select one article (not book, not web page) to read thoroughly. Write a one to two page response to the article in which you consider these questions:

  1. Who is the article’s intended audience? That is, specialists, the general public, scholars with certain interests, something else entirely?
  2. What is the central claim or question of the article?
  3. What’s your response to the article’s argument — do you find it persuasive, unpersuasive, interesting, or uninteresting? Explain your response. Refer to details from the article in your response.
  4. What do you notice about the article’s methodology — the kinds of evidence the writer draws on and the critical approach the writer takes in framing a question or problem to analyze?
  5. How does the scholar situate his or her argument in relationship to other critics? That is, does the scholar write to undercut x’s argument, or to build on y’s argument, or in agreement with z’s argument? How does the argument signal its participation in a larger critical conversation?
  6. What questions come to mind as you read the article? You do not need to answer these questions.
  7. What quotation best represents a key idea from the text?

This response does not need to be in an essay format.

Step 4: Your final bibliography should be divided into three sections:

You will be graded on the following criteria in this paper. Your ability to

This assignment is a modified version of an assignment created by Professor Timothy Connolly.