Why write an annotated bibliography?
- To help you learn about your topic.
- To demonstrate that you're informed on your topic.
- To help other researchers who come after you.
The purpose of an annotated bibliography is two-fold.
A good annotated bib shows:
- You have interacted with multiple kinds of sources about your topic.
- You can evaluate the quality and content of different kinds of sources.
An annotated bib, then, is simply an introduction and a bibliography (sometimes called works cited or sources page) with annotations. What’s an annotation?
consist of two small paragraphs.
- The first paragraph summarizes the source in an impartial tone.
- The second paragraph explains how this source is helpful to you in creating your research paper (in other words, what this source contributes to your argument.)
So what does this look like?
Here is an example of two annotations* that might appear** in an annotated bibliography on a paper about writing for a specific audience. Please note: you will start any annotated bibliography with a title and an introductory paragraph.
Elbow, Peter. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.
Power over real audiences comes from an immediate connection with reality gained through a breaking down of stifling conventions. Writing with power requires authenticity of expression (which writing teachers often call “voice”) and unmediated realism of perception in which the writer and reader must "see" the object written about.
This book, while over twenty-five years old, is one of the first that encouraged teachers to teach writing with an audience for their students in mind, so any paper that address the teaching of writing for a specific audience should incorporate Elbow’s argument. In addition, this book makes a convincing argument for why teaching writing for an audience makes writing more personally meaningful for students and helps students imagine their own compositions in "the real world."
Ong, Walter. “The Writer’s Audience is Always Fiction.” PMLA 90.1 (1975): 9-21.
A writer must first create in his or her mind the idea of an audience of some sort and imagine the role of that audience, whether it be an audience who is merely seeking entertainment or an audience who has some stake in the content of the writer’s argument. An audience, if not real, must be created in order for the argument to have context.
Ong's argument will help me show that audience is critical to creating a context for students. However, I disagree with his stance that audiences must be fictional and will argue against this source to show that there are publishing opportunities and other audiences available to undergraduate students, even if the audience is only the students’ classmates.
**You’ll note that these citations, like any bibliography, come in alphabetical order.