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The Annotated Bibliography is designed to introduce you to MLA Works Cited format, to give you the opportunity to read and familiarize yourself with various secondary sources, and to reflect on and plan how you might integrate secondary research most effectively into your writing in Step 3: Secondary Source Integration.
Below you will find a list of Objectives for the assignment. Be sure to also pay close attention to the tips listed in Points to Keep in Mind. You might also want to return to Chapter 5 of The Writer’s Companion for more information about selecting useful secondary sources.
Your work should be double-spaced, typed in 12-point font, and set to 1” margins.
Find four or five secondary sources that are timely, useful, credible, and relevant to your primary source. Your work with these sources should help you revise and build upon the work you completed in Step 1: Primary Source Analysis.
At least one of your sources should be from a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal
Other secondary sources might include articles from newspapers or magazines; books or book chapters; television, film, or radio documentaries; credible websites, etc. With some popular sources, particularly websites, there may be debate about their credibility. A news site such as The Atlantic or The New York Times will usually be considered credible by readers; a personal blog will usually be considered less credible. That is not to say that you cannot use a source like a blog, but rather that you will need to make a much stronger argument for why this source should be perceived and treated as credible.
READ YOUR SOURCES CAREFULLY. When you are initially searching for sources, it is fine to simply skim them. However, once you have decided to include a source in your Annotated Bibliography, make sure you have read it thoroughly and attentively.
For each source, create a correctly formatted Works Cited entry in MLA style.
See the MLA Handbook or the Purdue OWL ( for details.
After each entry, create an annotation for each source. These annotations should be thorough and detailed, about 300 words per source. In each annotation, you should:
Describe the source (where it comes from, who wrote it, how a reader might determine its reliability, etc.).
Provide a detailed summary of the author’s main argument. For instance, do not simply say that an article is “about personal confidence.” What, specifically, does the article say about personal confidence? Demonstrate that you understand the central argument each source is marking.
Detail how you see this secondary source connecting to either your primary source itself or a broader topic suggested by your primary source. Explain this connection thoroughly to your reader, and be as specific as possible.
Discuss how this source may relate to your argument and how you might use this source in later writing assignments in this class. Explain why you feel it would be productive to use the source in this way. Some questions you might consider:
How will you use this source in future writing? Will it support your argument? Complicate it? Disagree with it? Something else?
What material will you use from the secondary source? Why do you feel that specific material would be particularly compelling, effective, or useful to your argument?
What elements of the source might you quote, paraphrase, or summarize? What do you feel would be the rhetorical impact of presenting the information in this way?
How might you introduce the source in-text? What might be the rhetorical impact of introducing the source in different ways?
Points to Keep in Mind:
Be sure that you understand the difference between a primary and a secondary source. You can only use secondary sources in the Annotated Bibliography. See p. 55 of The Writer’s Companion for help.
Use your research question(s) from the Primary Source Analysis to begin your search for secondary sources. For example, if you asked a question about how personal confidence is influenced by advertising, you might research secondary sources relating to psychology or marketing.
If your research question from your Primary Source Analysis does not seem to be leading you in a productive direction, think about how you might adapt or further develop that research question to better support your search for timely, useful, relevant, credible sources.
Keep in mind that research is not an exact science. Be patient and flexible throughout the process. For some of the primary sources you might be analyzing, there may be very few secondary sources that discuss your primary source directly. Consider your primary source from multiple angles; think about broader conversations your primary source might suggest.


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