Focused Annotated Bibliography Assignment
WHAT IS A FOCUSED ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY?
A bibliography is a list of sources, books and articles that provide readers with the basic information about a source: author, title, and publication details. A works cited page is an example of a bibliography. An annotated bibliography is different from a simple bibliography. Whereas a bibliography is just a list of sources, an annotated bibliography contains annotations, specific information about each source. The purpose of the annotation is to describe and evaluate the source. Placed after each citation, the annotation briefly explains the thesis or purpose of the source as well as a description of the source. The annotation, therefore, provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the source’s purpose, content, and special value.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ASSIGNMENT
The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to prepare for the research paper assignment. The annotated bibliography, therefore, is a record of the research you have done for the research paper. But you also need a purpose, a focus, for this assignment. In addition to the research, you will also have an introductory paragraph that explains your thesis, the purpose of your research. Therefore, this assignment is comprised of the introductory paragraph as well as the citations, each with an annotation.
- Write an introduction of at least 200 words explaining the purpose of your research. This purpose will also serve as the thesis for the research paper. Be as specific as possible, completely explaining and defining your purpose. Remember that the thesis is a specific critical argument, an analysis of one of the assigned texts. The thesis does not have to be limited to one sentence; you may need a paragraph or two to explain your ideas – consider your audience. Also you may need to tweak the introduction when you begin writing the research paper itself.
- Gather, cite, and annotate at least five secondary, scholarly sources on a text from our syllabus under the “Readings” for each Unit (these are not the type of sources you normally find by doing a Google search; avoid online sources and instead use sources from the library’s databases). The text you select is the primary source (one of the novels, short stories or poems in the course), but this primary source is not listed on the annotated bibliography.
- Only secondary sources are listed on the bibliography. The secondary sources should be up-to-date sources.
- Citations must follow current MLA guidelines. For specific information on how to use MLA format, please see The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. The OWL at Purdue, the online writing lab, is another excellent source: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
- Every citation will have an annotation, a summary of the source. Each annotation will be between 90 and 110 words, a complete paragraph of three to four complete sentences. The annotation will state the author’s main argument and key points/evidence supporting that argument.
HOW TO FORMAT THE FOCUSED ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Write an introduction of at least 200 words, explaining the thesis or purpose of your research. Then list the entries, the scholarly sources. Each entry in the annotated bibliography consists of the citation itself (the source) and the annotation. MLA style is required for all citations; therefore, follow the same format used for a works cited page. Like the works cited page, the entries are placed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name (or first word of the entry). Do not number the entries.
The margin of the first line of each entry is flush left. The second line (and all further lines) of each citation are indented ten spaces on the left. All citations and annotations are double-spaced.
HOW TO WRITE ANNOTATIONS
Each annotation should provide enough information so that a researcher will understand the source’s purpose or thesis. Be careful that your annotations are summarized and not quoted. The challenge of writing these short annotations is in capturing the gist of each text in a summary using your own words. To summarize something, one must understand it! Also, avoid wordiness or unnecessary repetition; do not include information already provided in the citation itself. For example, there is no need to repeat the author’s full name or the title of the work.
An annotation should address the following questions:
- What is the author’s main point(s) or purpose? What is the author trying to prove?
- How does the author supports his/her claim? What evidence does he/she use? How effective are his/her claims or evidence? Is the author responding to another scholarly work?
- What is the relevance or importance of the source? How does the author’s argument or thesis compare or contrast with your other sources? Is your source reliable? Does your source have any strengths or weaknesses? If so, what are they?
EXAMPLE OF AN ENTRY IN AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
The following is an example of an entry for an annotated bibliography on Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman:
Kumar, Nita N. “The Logic of Retribution: Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman.” African American
Review 37.2-3 (2003): 271-279.
Kumar defends Baraka’s Dutchman against the charges that it forwards a Black essentialism that simply reverses the problems caused by the concept of White essentialism. Kumar concedes that Baraka’s protagonist Clay does take up a position of Blackness that is defined by his “black pumping heart” and that his manhood is reinforced by taking up traditional ideas of manhood, ideas dependent on the traditional male/female binary. However, Kumar suggests that Clay’s views do not directly correlate with Baraka’s. She asserts that Clay’s death reveals inevitable self-defeat for this kind of binary. She suggests that Baraka promotes a more postmodern program that demands negotiation of meaning rather than imposed meaning.
CHECKLIST FOR WRITING A FOCUSED ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
First, review the introduction.
- Does the introduction explain your purpose?
- Is your focus specific? Do you have one critical argument that is focused and specific?
- Do thoroughly explain your purpose to the reader? For example, do you define all relevant terms?
- Will your focus work as a thesis for the research paper?
Second, check each citation.
- Does each citation follow correct MLA format?
- Are the citations in alphabetical order by author’s last name?
Third, check each annotation.
- Is the thesis or purpose provided or explained? Is it clear how the author supports his or her claim?
- Is the annotation thorough yet concise? Is the annotation too vague or general?
- Does the annotation lack relevant details? Does the annotation repeat any unnecessary information already provided in the citation?
- Does the annotation have any grammatical or mechanical mistakes?
KEEP THESE GOALS IN MIND
The goal of this bibliography is to aid you in planning and writing your research paper. Once you begin to write, you will return to these summaries to decide which sources to integrate into your argument and how to use these scholars’ arguments to make your own case. If you decide that one of these sources will help you in composing your argument, you may do further research to find a more suitable one.
Questions to keep in mind as you approach each entry are:
- What important insight(s) does this scholar contribute to a study of Baraka’s Dutchman (or the topic you’ve chosen)?
- Does this source agree/disagree with other critical articles?
- What makes this article’s important or unique?
Continue on to the following page when you are ready to complete the Focused Annotated Bibliography Assignment during Unit 4.