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Annotated Bibliography: Guidelines and Objectives


An annotated bibliography is a list of sources followed by a short description and evaluation of the content of those sources. It is a research tool used to assist you in synthesizing the main themes discussed in a source (e.g. article or book). Annotations also allow someone unfamiliar with a source to get a sense of its content.

Using only Polk State College’s databases, find six sources published within the last ten years on your approved topic and create a citation and an annotation for each of them. Your topic should be the one you wish to use for your informative research paper (project three) so that the sources used for this assignment may be used in the research paper that follows. Please see the list of off-limit topics in this document before you submit your topic for approval.

•Peer-reviewed articles (also called academic or scholarly articles)

•E-Book from either the library or its databases

Off-limit sources: book reviews, videos, documentaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, foreign-language sources, abstracts, blogs, Salem Encyclopedia entries, and Salem Press Research Starters. As a college researcher, you should find substantial sources (not videos, summaries, or blogs) to use in your paper. Also, note that multiple articles from one book do not count as multiple sources.

You may not use any sources found outside of the library for this assignment.

If you include any sources found through popular search engines such as Google, they will not be calculated in the project grade. You will receive a zero if no library sources are used. You must cite sources properly to show that they were found in the library; if you don’t provide a full MLA citation, including the name of the database used and the URL or DOI for the source, then I will be unable to confirm that the source was retrieved from the library. If you have trouble locating sources, you may need to change your topic. Annotations (paragraphs) should be about 100-150 words each. Be sure that your annotation includes evaluative comments about the relative benefit/importance of the article in terms of a potential paper’s discussion of its topic.

You should create a citation for each source using MLA format (8th edition). The annotations should follow the citations according to MLA format, as well.

•To find and evaluate scholarly sources

•To summarize main ideas

•To present ideas within the context of other similar ideas

The Project

•To use proper MLA format

•To use an academic voice (third-person, active voice)

1. Locate a variety of sources for your topic using the college’s library and its databases. Look through the sources and choose those that will be most useful.

2. Cite the book or article in MLA 8 format.

3. Write a brief, evaluative annotation for each text. An annotation is a commentary or a critical explanation of a text. Annotations should be written in paragraph form. Each entry should include the following points in one single paragraph (see sample entry below):

a. Summary: Include a concise statement about the major theme or purpose of the text

i. Summarize the main ideas, purpose, and arguments.

b. Evaluation/Assessment: Give an assessment of the source.

i. Look at author’s authority and intended audience.

ii. Name two points of credibility for the source. What makes it credible or trustworthy enough to include in your assignment?

iii. Compare/contrast with other sources in bibliography. Is the source biased or objective?

c. Reflection: Give an explanation of how the source will be used in the research paper.

i. How will it be helpful to you (not to other) when you write your research paper? 

ii. What particular type of support (statistics, facts, background, experts’ quotations, etc.) will the source provide for the research paper? 

The following topics are not permitted: abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia (assisted suicide), lowering the drinking age, legalizing marijuana or any other drug, steroids in sports, teen pregnancy, obesity, bullying, eating disorders, same-sex marriage/adoption, animal abuse, global warming, video games, texting while driving, gun control, religious persecution, diseases, vaccines, history, and biographies.

Try to come up with a fresh, current topic that interests you. You must submit your topic for approval before you begin this project by completing the research topic proposal. Keep in mind that you will be writing an informative research paper based upon a current event or social issue, not an argumentative or opinion-based paper. You may not submit an annotated bibliography or a research paper written for another course.

 •Affirmative Action

•Aging out of the Foster Care System

•Ballot Access

•Campaign Finance Reform


•Charter Schools

•Civil Asset Forfeiture

•Criminal Law Reform

•Cost of a College Education: Is It Worth It?

•Disability Rights

•Disability Rights: Education

•Discrimination against Transgender People

•Drug Sentencing and Penalties

•Election Reform

•Fathers’ Rights

•Felon Enfranchisement (Voting Rights)

•Free Speech


•Hate Crimes

•Hate Speech and Its Consequences



•Immigrant Detention

•Internet Privacy

•Lead in Drinking Water/Safe Drinking Water

•LGBT Basic Rights and Liberties

•LGBT Youth & Schools

•Mandatory Volunteer Hours in High School

•Medical Care in Prison

•Mental Health Care in Prison

•The #MeToo Movement

•Minimum Wage

•National Security

•Nationalism vs. Patriotism

•Net Neutrality

•Opioid Crisis

•Prescription Drug Costs

•Police Practices

•Prison Conditions

•Promoting Access to the Ballot

•Protest and Sports

•Race and Criminal Justice

•Racial Justice

•Racial Profiling

•Red Tide and Chemical Dumping

•Search and Seizure

•State Anti-Immigrant Laws

•Student Speech

•Surveillance & Privacy

•Targeted Killings

•Trade Tariffs 


•Violence against Women

•Voting Rights

•Women in Prison

•Workplace Privacy
Note: If you select one of these subjects, you must narrow it down. For example, if you were interested in writing about violence against women, one possible was to narrow it down is to focus on domestic violence in teen relationships or to explore why some women stay with their abusive partners.

Please answer the following questions in paragraph format after you review the guidelines for the annotated bibliography. Your work should be typed and in MLA format.

1.What is your proposed topic? This should be the basic overall topic you are considering for your paper. It may be a little broad at first, but you must narrow it down as you move forward with your research. Be sure to choose a topic that is intellectually challenging and allows for critical thinking. A research paper is not an exercise in simply regurgitating facts; it is a thoughtful and thorough discussion of an issue.

2.Why are you interested in the topic? What is it about the topic that fascinates you? Your interest in the topic will help generate interest among your audience.

3.What do you already know about the topic?

4.What do you need to know or learn about the topic? Consider new aspects of your topic that you had not previously considered.

5.What is your research question? This question will help provide you with more focus on your topic.

6.Who is your intended audience?

7.Why is the issue you chose important? 

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