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Annotated Bibliography Instructions

Specs: +300 words per annotation; 10 annotations with full bibliographic information, divided into 5 annotations per submission.

Purpose: This assignment helps you assess your sources, decide what will be helpful to your research, and determine how you wish to use them. You need to review the scholarly literature relevant to your research interest in order to learn what has already been done, what is missing from previous research, and where your proposed project might fit into that previous research.

By the end of your research process, you need to have examined closely at least 8 scholarly sources (a mix of books and journal articles) related to your research assignment. You will need to cite (in a meaningful and substantive way) at least 6 sources in the final draft of your project (your chosen sources may change over time as your project evolves). The annotated bibliography will include a full bibliographic entry for the text following ASA citation format (see style guide posted on Ilearn). Underneath each entry, you must include a one to two paragraph long annotation.

An annotation is like a shortened critical summary. To write an annotation about a work you are considering using in your paper, follow these steps. You don’t need to read an entire book to determine its usefulness. Below are guidelines for strategic skimming. (Adapted from A Concise Guide to College Success: Carpe Diem, John Arthur (2004: 71-74).

While you read:

1. Get a sense of the Big Picture
a. Read the introduction to find out the author’s overall objective, how it fits into your

research interest, and the main point or argument. b. Ifabook:

i. Examinethetableofcontents.
ii. Look at the index to see if the book discusses any key concepts you are

interested in.
c. If an article, also examine the abstract carefully, as well as section sub-headings.

2. Identify the Argument Structure

  1. Look at the conclusion, the author’s reasoning process, supporting evidence
  2. Starting points, argument chains, methodology.

3. Write a Synopsis (a.k.a. an annotation)

  1. “Begin with a sentence or two explaining the context….
  2. Thentrytoexplaintheheartoressenceofwhatyouread.
  3. What, precisely, did the author want readers to come away believing?
  4. How did the author try to establish that conclusion?
  5. What distinctions did the author make, and how did they support the larger point the

    author was trying to establish?” (Arthur 2004: 74)

  6. If you can, include who you think the author is in conversation with, and who the

    author might be arguing against.

  7. If you can, include crucial definitions and concepts on which the author’s argument


Annotated Bibliography Instructions

These annotations are essential to your success in evaluating and using sources well. This also requires you to do the background reading necessary to refine your research question for your project proposal.

Ultimately, you will select at least six of these sources to incorporate into the literature review section of your research paper. These will enable to you to frame your own project proposal effectively.

Sample bibliographic annotation:
Ballinger, Pamela. 2003. History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans.

Princeton University Press.

Ballinger’s ethnographic research study of the Istrian peninsula, which straddles the borders of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, examines transnational political and ideological debates in Istrian nationalist politics.1 For the intellectuals, historians, and activists on all sides of Istria’s borders, narratives of history and their memories of exile and displacement are the foundations of Istrian identity.2 Ballinger argues that the historical narratives of exiled and remaining Istrians contradict and yet speak back to each other dialogically as part of a similar discourse of European identity. Here, history becomes an objectified possession that is contested and subject to competing claims of ownership.3 The comparison with Michael Herzfeld’s A Place in History is useful for my research project, as the Cretan Rethemniot townspeople in Herzfeld’s study engage in similar debates over the ownership of history, but there is a crucial difference in how these debates happen. In Ballinger, the debate is intellectual and happens through political protests and commemorations, as well as through the practices of amateur and professional history-writing. In Herzfeld, on the other hands, the debate over history is embodied and lived in daily activities like building houses and fighting the state archeological office.4

1 Location, themes / concepts, theoretical orientation, fieldsite.
2 People, social roles, questions of cultural meaning, key concepts and themes.
3 Succinct summary of argument’s essence.
4 Comparison / contrast with important relevant text, key point with specific examples to put in conversation with each other.