Major Project 2: Annotated Bibliography + Literature Review

With your research question at the ready, you are poised to investigate how writing, language, and meaning-making are expressed or developed in a community you care about. But it’s important to remember that we aren’t the first ones to venture into this territory. The first step to successful research and writing is to listen. The goal of your scholarly article will be to say something new and offer fresh insight into the field. To do this, you’ll need to know what has already been said. Our writing and our research take place in context and conversation. 

The Annotated Bibliography will help you to position yourself as a credible and articulate writing researcher by building a sense of the ongoing conversation that surrounds your research question. You’ll also seek to build off the foundation of the work that other researchers have accomplished. (Someday, the research you accomplish with this project may inform future generations of writing scholars and students just like you.)

The Task

For your Annotated Bibliography, you will read and annotate at least six scholarly sources pertaining to the research question determined in your initial proposal. These sources may inform your understanding of writing studies in general as well as pertain directly to your discourse community and topic of choice.

Following the genre conventions of an annotated bibliography that we’ve covered in class, you will list each of your sources in proper format and prepare a summary to accompany each source you have selected. Your annotations should summarize and evaluate the source material, connecting its relevance to your research topic.

After your list and summaries, you will include a discussion of what you found in your research in the form of a Literature Review. In your lit review, you will bring your research together in a synthesis that describes the existing conversation. You should also begin to converse with your sources. Comment upon how you see the sources interacting with one another. Express how and to what extent the sources inform your research topic. If you found some sources more helpful than others, this should be communicated in your literature review along with a justification as to why you believe this to be the case. Identify any gaps that exist in the current conversation and research. Begin to carve out a niche where your research project will live.

The Details

Your annotated bib will include no fewer than six scholarly sources. You may certainly include more than six if you feel that you have found additional resources beneficial to your research topic. You should be able to explain your reasoning for including each one and how it is valuable to your overall goal.

At least three of your sources must be writing studies related. While you may find these elsewhere, your Writing About Writing textbook may serve as a helpful resource. The remaining sources may pertain more specifically to the topic, genre, and/or discourse community you are researching.

Each bibliography entry should follow MLA format.

Annotations should be 1 paragraph each. The literature review portion should take the shape of a 2-2.5 page essay (you can go longer if you feel you need it).

Tips & Tricks

You will probably read more than six sources for this project. The sources included in your annotated bibliography should be those that you find most relevant. These are the sources that you will inform your research, frame your scholarly argument, and serve as the interlocutors for your writing research.

An annotated bibliography is about organization. Your annotations will serve as a helpful tool as you move towards integrating secondary sources into your writing. Keep careful notes about where you find your information along with the publication information. This tool will help you avoid accidental plagiarism.

Your lit review will come in very hand when you sit down to write a draft of your Scholarly Article so give it your best shot!

Put your tools of summary, paraphrase, and quotation to good use as you interact with your sources both in your annotations and in your literature review. You should always follow proper citation practices.

Remember to Mind the Gap! What questions do you still have that your research hasn’t answered? See these unanswered questions as the areas where your research might genuinely enhance the efforts of writing scholars (because you are one too!).

Check out the following questions to help you interrogate your sources:

  • What have other scholars said about your topic or research question?
  • What gaps exist in the current conversation? In other words, what is not being said yet? How might your research question be tailored to fill this gap?
  • What did you learn? What surprised you about the conversation? How has this changed your thinking?
  • Where do your ideas fit in the conversation? Have other scholars asked and/or answers your question before? How did they go about it?
  • Has your thinking in regards to your research topic changed based on your interactions

How Will You Know It’s Good?

A good Annotated Bibliography will include annotations that demonstrate that you have understood your source by accurately and succinctly summarizing its content. Annotations should connect the source’s relevance to your research topic. Your selection of sources should show that you have conducted thoughtful and thorough investigation into the relevant fields and scholarship. 

A successful Literature Review will build on the work of your Annotated Bibliography by synthesizing what you have discovered about the conversation that surrounds your research topic. Your literature review will portray a sketch of the scholarship that surrounds your question so that your sources begin to interact with one another (and you do too). Most importantly, a good review will work towards identifying a gap in the research and indicate how your thinking is developing into some meaningful insight or study you can share with the field.

Plus, make sure you’ve met all of these criteria:

  • Include no fewer than six scholarly sources
  • Include at least three sources related to writing studies
  • Meet the minimum length requirements: 2 pages for the Literature Review and a paragraph annotation alongside each source
  • Follow MLA format and includes all appropriate citations