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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography for a Research Paper

Proposal Requirements

In paragraph form, provide information about your research topic and the major issues you intend to examine. Your one-page description must include a working thesis statement. 

You also need to include an annotated bibliography (following APA or CSE style) for five references that you will use in your research. Each citation should be followed by a brief (around 100–150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph. The descriptive aspect of the annotation involves describing the main ideas presented in the source. The evaluative aspect informs the reader of the quality of the source and its relevance to the essay topic.

Your final paper should include at least 10 references, and at least 5 of these should be peer-reviewed.

Choose a Project Topic:

You are expected to choose a topic with which you have some personal interest or connection. You may want to investigate a plant that is of personal interest to you or a plant-people interaction that you find particularly interesting. You are encouraged to explore the spiritual, political, or economic aspects of the interaction, but you also are required to include biology and natural history information on which these interactions are based. Keep in mind that regardless of the topic or research question you choose, you need to develop a clear thesis and provide evidence from your research to support your argument (i.e., to defend your position).

Additional Topic Ideas

If you don’t have a personal connection to a specific topic or if you haven’t yet identified a particular issue of interest, following are some additional topic ideas that you might consider:

  • Design a wildlife garden for your backyard. Explain what wildlife species you want to attract and support; their requirements; and how your garden design will meet those needs.
  • Visit a museum near you and discuss the artifacts that are made from plant materials.
  • Bee plants: Which ones are most important and why?
  • Choose a plant that has a special significance to a culture and try to explain why it is so important.
  • Plants as fuel: Describe the use of plants as fuel through history and into the future.
  • Explore the use of plants as anti-fertility agents.
  • Research marine algae as a potential source of food for humans.
  • Describe the management of the non-timber plant resources of our forests. Choose a specific forest area and look in depth at the issues.
  • Take a close look at a local weed. Where is it from? What are the social, biological, and ecological reasons for it being a weed? How does that information help us to control its spread?
  • Chose an important crop and look at its history of domestication. Who first domesticated it? What were the selection criteria that led to its present varieties? How was it distributed?
  • The opium poppy: blessing or curse?
  • Intellectual property rights and indigenous peoples’ plant knowledge.
  • The role of the slave trade between Africa and the Americas in the movements of plants.
  • Maize is the staple food of some African cultures today, yet it was domesticated in the Americas. How did this come about?
  • Describe the history and various forms of coffee use.
  • How are botanical symbols used in various religions?
  • The medically effective herbalism of any particular cultural group.
  • What plant products are used in cosmetics?
  • The botanist as archaeologist: how the two fields of study are related.
  • Vegetarian cultures: do they have any universal properties?
  • Ecological remediation: how might plants be used to restore damaged landscapes? 

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