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English Composition (100, 101, 102): Annotated Bibliography

Assessment & Analysis

1. Author

  • What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation (where he or she works), educational background, past writings, or experience? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise? 
  • Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization? What are the basic values or goals of the organization or institution?

2. Date of Publication

  • When was the source published? 
  • Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic? Topic areas of continuing and rapid development, such as the sciences, demand more current information. On the other hand, topics in the humanities often require material that was written many years ago. At the other extreme, some news sources on the Web now note the hour and minute that articles are posted on their site.

3. Edition or Revision

  • Is this a first edition of this publication or not? Further editions indicate a source has been revised and updated to reflect changes in knowledge, include omissions, and harmonize with its intended reader's needs. Also, many printings or editions may indicate that the work has become a standard source in the area and is reliable. If you are using a Web source, do the pages indicate revision dates?

4. Publisher

  • Note the publisher. If the source is published by a university press, it is likely to be scholarly. Although the fact that the publisher is reputable does not necessarily guarantee quality.

5. Title of Journal

  • Is this a scholarly or a popular journal? This distinction is important because it indicates different levels of complexity in conveying ideas. If you need help in determining the type of journal, see Popular Vs. Scholarly Sources

Adapted and Used with Permission from Research & Learning Services - Olin Library - Cornell University Library - Ithaca, NY, USA 

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Having made an initial assessment, you should now examine the body of the source. Read the article abstract and scan the table of contents of a journal or magazine issue. Is there a bibliography at the end of the article. Find the thesis statement of the article. For books, read the preface to determine the author's intentions for the book. Scan the table of contents and the index to get a broad overview of the material it covers. Note whether bibliographies are included. Read the chapters that specifically address your topic

1. Intended Audience

  • What type of audience is the author addressing? Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience? Is this source too elementary, too technical, too advanced, or just right for your needs?

2. Objective Reasoning

  • Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? It is not always easy to separate fact from opinion. Facts can usually be verified. Opinions, though they may be based on factual information, evolve from the interpretation of facts. 
  • Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence? Assumptions should be reasonable. Note errors or omissions.
  • Are the ideas and arguments advanced more or less in line with other works you have read on the same topic? The more radically an author departs from the views of others in the same field, the more carefully and critically you should scrutinize his or her ideas.
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Is the language free of emotion-arousing words and bias?

3. Coverage

  • Does the work update other sources, substantiate other materials you have read, or add new information? Does it extensively or marginally cover your topic? You should explore enough sources to obtain a variety of viewpoints.
  • Is the material primary or secondary in nature? Primary sources are the raw material of the research process. Secondary sources are based on primary sources. For example, if you were researching Konrad Adenauer's role in rebuilding West Germany after World War II, Adenauer's own writings would be one of many primary sources available on this topic. Others might include relevant government documents and contemporary German newspaper articles. Scholars use this primary material to help generate historical interpretations--a secondary source. Books, encyclopedia articles, and scholarly journal articles about Adenauer's role are considered secondary sources. In the sciences, journal articles and conference proceedings written by experimenters reporting the results of their research are primary documents. Choose both primary and secondary sources when you have the opportunity.

4. Writing Style

  • Is the publication organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read, or is it stilted or choppy? Is the author's argument repetitive?

5. Evaluative Reviews

  • Locate critical reviews of books in a reviewing source. Is the review positive? Is the book under review considered a valuable contribution to the field? Does the reviewer mention other books that might be better? If so, locate these sources for more information on your topic.
  • Do the various reviewers agree on the value or attributes of the book or has it aroused controversy among the critics?

Adapted and Used with Permission from Research & Learning Services - Olin Library - Cornell University Library - Ithaca, NY, USA 

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Annotated Bibliography

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 (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.


ANNOTATIONS VS. ABSTRACTS

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.


THE PROCESS

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) summarize or describe the main points/arguments of the source, (b) evaluate the quality of the source, (c) assess the reliability of the sources, and (d) reflect on how useful this article will be for your own research. (An example of these parts can be found in the next tab.) 


CHOOSING THE CORRECT FORMAT FOR THE CITATIONS

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. 

 

Adapted and Used with Permission from Research & Learning Services - Olin Library - Cornell University Library - Ithaca, NY, USA 

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The Five Main Parts of An Annotated Bibliography:

  1. Citation
  2. Summary
  3. Evaluation of Quality
  4. Assessment of Reliability 
  5. Reflection on Usefulness

Stewart, Kenneth. “Lessons from Teaching Millennials.” College Teaching, vol. 57, no. 2, Spring 2009, pp. 111-118. Academic Search Complete.  http://proxy.ashland.edu:2048/Login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=36858243&site=ehost-live

     In his article "Lessons from Teaching Millennials," Kenneth Stewart (Professor @ Frostburg State University) discusses his experience returning to teaching a new generation of undergraduates. After describing his "reentrance" to undergrad instruction, Stewart compares his current students to past generations and analyzing the differences. After this he analyzes his own teaching performance and what mistakes he made. Stewart concludes that as each generation emerges, faculty must adjust with the times to work with students to help them succeed. This sources provides a look at the changes and challenges of the instruction of undergraduates through the eyes of an actual professor. not only does the author analyze the different students (by research and observance), he also analyzes his own teaching. Stewart backs up his findings about students with data and other research. He also included thoughts from his colleagues. This case study will be a valuable source when discussing the reality of instructing the current generation of undergraduates. It does not focus on theories and ideas, but reality. 

 

Battle, K. (2007). Child poverty: The evolution and impact of child benefits. In Covell, K., & Howe, R. B. (Eds), A question of commitment: Children's rights in Canada (pp. 21-44).Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Press. Laurier University

           Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs.  He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children.  His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children.  Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists.  He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favor of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography.  He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyzes.  However, Battle does offer available source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents.  This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada. 

(from Eastern Nazarene College Learning Commons)

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Adapted and Used with Permission from Research & Learning Services - Olin Library - Cornell University Library - Ithaca, NY, USA 

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