RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Notes on Annotated bibliography

A printed copy of your annotated bibliography is due in class on Wednesday, October 30th. This must include all five sources that you plan to use during Unit Four.

Annotated BIB

bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called “references” or “works cited” depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.

Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Once you’ve summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography should be 120-200 words and include all three of these elements.


The bibliographic information: an MLA citation of each source, listed by alphabetical order.

The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. There should be no extra space between the annotation and the citation. The lengths of the annotations should be 150-200 words. You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.


To cite an Anthology such as our Mercury Reader:

Lastname, First name. “Title of Essay.” Title of Collection. Ed.
Editor’s Name(s). City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.


Walker, Alice. “Am I Blue?” Mercury Reader: Sustainability Fall 2012. Ed.
Janice Neuleib, Kathleen Shine Cain, and Stephen Ruffus.
Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2013.  44-48. Print.


Notes on research and narrowing your overall topic into a thesis

A research paper should not simply be a blind report of information. Instead, it should address an interesting or relevant problem and respond to that problem with a thesis that is specific, debatable, and source driven.

You should begin by developing a research question via critical thinking. When debating an answer or response to your question be sure to consider every point of view that can be taken on the subject, what type of evidence supports those points of view, what aspects of the question are open ended and which facets of the problem have been focused on by scholars.

After considering all of these aspects of your subject or question you should be able to form a thesis, or answer to the problem or subject at hand. Your thesis should be backed up by your sources, though not all sources will function in the same way throughout your essay. Some sources will work to provide context to your argument, some will supply evidence to your claims, and others will work to present alternative points of view so that your argument is well rounded.

The key to all of this is specificity. You will make it much harder on yourself if you do not create a thesis that is as specific as possible because a general thesis leaves too much room for debate and can cause you to meander or lose sight of what you would like to discuss. A concise and exact thesis allows you to be sure of what you are arguing and makes your sources work for you rather than you work to make sense of your sources.

Start with original, broad topic:
The Threat of Erosion

Focus on your topic:
limit by a particular approach to the issue, one part of the subject, a specific time span, a population group, a geographical location. DRAW ON SPECIFICS.

Erosion effects on Louisiana >>
Erosion effects on Louisiana (culture, fisheries, habitats, national navigation, oil & gas industry, storm protection, water quality & agriculture.)

Make a list of useful keywords:
Brainstorm keywords that you associate with your topic

Keywords: trawling, fishing, bayous, crawfish, domestic food sources

Be willing to modify or change
If you find yourself moving in a direction you did not anticipate don’t hit the breaks—see if it leads to a more conductive avenue of thought or research

The negative effects of erosion on domestic food sources via fisheries

Define your topic as a research question:
Ask an important question about your topic that could be answered via research.

What economical effect does erosion in Louisiana have on the United States domestic food supply as fisheries are threatened? 

Read more about topic in light of new view:
Try to answer your own question through research or close investigation into your gathered sources.

“Almost 75% of the fish landed in the Gulf of Mexico come through a Louisiana port (NOAA fisheries 2005). Louisiana in 1997 had more fishing vessels than any other state except for Alaska (Richardson et al. 2004). In addition, in 1999, Louisiana had 122 commercial fish processing plats, as well as 161 wholesalers.”

“Fisheries.” Louisiana’s Coast. State of Louisiana, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013

Form a thesis statement:
In a sense this is an answer to your question. This should be a claim that you can stand behind and argue with the help of your sources and your synthesized understanding of the subject at hand.

As domestic fisheries are threatened by coastal erosion in Louisiana the United States is at risk of losing one of its most profitable coastal industries and therefore will take a substantial hit economically. 

Unit Four MCL Assignments Are Now Accessible


The three assignments on MyCompLab for Unit Four are now accessible to you.  Quite a large percentage of the class did not complete the Unit Three assignments and as a result lost points that would have been easily earned as this is a completion grade. Make sure that you get this round done, and once you finish these assignments say Adios to MCL until English 102!

Intro to synthesis & in-class response

Synthesis is a way of understanding complex ideas or arguments and is the next step in analysis. When you analyze something you break it into parts to see how those parts form a whole. In synthesis you take one more step and assemble those parts into a new whole.

Synthesis is an important component of academic research writing because it allows the writer to create their own, larger understanding of a specific idea. You do this by looking at several source’s ideas together and determining where they are agreeing and disagreeing.

For the first informal assignment of Unit Four let’s use the idea of synthesis on a more practical level.  Even if you aren’t always aware of it, you synthesize information from the media constantly—this could especially be seen in Unit Two via the messages that advertising pushes to its audience. Another huge medium that we synthesize on the daily is music.

For this response choose three songs that all focus on the same overall subject but with different perspectives.  Once you have picked your songs write a response that synthesizes where they agree or share common elements and where they are making separate arguments. From there try to form a larger claim based on the three song’s discussion together.

An example would be love songs. Even though love songs all discuss the emotion of love they can address it in very different ways: romantic love, familial love, lost love, fun love, sex, loving/respecting oneself. By looking at these different types of love and the ways that each artist addresses them we can gain a larger understanding of the idea as a whole.

Beginning your search for outside sources


Secondary Research

Secondary research is the gathering and synthesis of existing research. Secondary research requires the full citation of the original source or references.

Types of Secondary Sources:
Books & textbooks, newspapers, academic & trade journals, websites, weblogs / blogs.

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating sources is an important skill–much of which is detective work. You have to decide where to look, what clues to search for, and what to accept. You may be overwhelmed with too much information or too little. The temptation is to accept whatever you find. But don’t be tempted. Learning how to evaluate effectively is a skill you need both for your course papers and your life.

After you have asked yourself some questions about the source and determined that it’s worth your time to find and read the source, you can evaluate the material in the source as you read through it.

  • Read the preface–what does the author want to accomplish? Browse through the table of contents and the index.This will give you an overview of the source. Is your topic covered in enough depth to be helpful? If you don’t find your topic discussed, try searching for some synonyms in the index.
  • Check for a list of references or other citations that look as if they will lead you to related material that would be good sources.
  • Determine the intended audience. Are you the intended audience? Consider the tone, style, level of information, and assumptions the author makes about the reader. Are they appropriate for your needs?
  • Try to determine if the content of the source is fact, opinion, or propaganda. If you think the source is offering facts, are the sources for those facts clearly indicated?
  • Do you think there’s enough evidence offered? Is the coverage comprehensive? (As you learn more and more about your topic, you will notice that this gets easier as you become more of an expert.)
  • Is the language objective or emotional?
  • Are there broad generalizations that overstate or oversimplify the matter?
  • Does the author use a good mix of primary and secondary sources for information?
  • If the source is opinion, does the author offer sound reasons for adopting that stance? (Consider again those questions about the author. Is this person reputable?)
  • Check for accuracy.
  • How timely is the source? Is the source 20 years out of date? Some information becomes dated when new research is available, but other older sources of information can be quite sound 50 or 100 years later.
  • Do some cross-checking. Can you find some of the same information given elsewhere?
  • How credible is the author? If the document is anonymous, what do you know about the organization?
  • Are there vague or sweeping generalizations that aren’t backed up with evidence?
  • Are arguments very one-sided with no acknowledgement of other viewpoints?

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing?

These three ways of incorporating other writers’ work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.

Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.

Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.

Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Writers frequently intertwine summaries, paraphrases, and quotations. As part of a summary of an article, a chapter, or a book, a writer might include paraphrases of various key points blended with quotations of striking or suggestive phrases.

How to use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries

Practice summarizing an essay using paraphrases and quotations as you go. It might be helpful to follow these steps:

  • Read the entire text, noting the key points and main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words what the single main idea of the essay is.
  • Paraphrase important supporting points that come up in the essay.
  • Consider any words, phrases, or brief passages that you believe should be quoted directly.

There are several ways to integrate quotations into your text. Often, a short quotation works well when integrated into a sentence. Longer quotations can stand alone. Remember that quoting should be done only sparingly; be sure that you have a good reason to include a direct quotation when you decide to do so.

A paraphrase is…

  • Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
  • One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
  • A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because…

  • It is better than quoting information from an undistinguished passage.
  • It helps you control the temptation to quote too much.
  • The mental process required for successful paraphrasing helps you to grasp the full meaning of the original.

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

For more information see the Purdue Online Writing Lab at:

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Onesearch

First you will want to go to the library home page at:
and click the first tab titled “Onesearch BETA”

When the search bar drops down enter your initial quarry.

This will bring you to the Onesearch results page. Most likely there will be thousands of results–too many for you to sift through. You will need to narrow these results by applying filters that can be found on the left side column. You can also add more key words into the two additional search bars to specify your results.

You will almost always want to apply the filters for full text online, scholarly journals, and adjust the slide bar to narrow your time frame of publication. This should narrow your results to a much more manageable number.

Once you review your results and select an article or essay that looks promising click the title link and it will bring you to a synopsis page that provides key info on the essay such as the author, abstract, and publication information. If after reading though this information you feel that the source may still be applicable to your needs then select how you would like to view the full essay by choosing from the options on your left column that will be labeled either “PDF Full Text”or “Linked Full Text”.

After reading through the full text, if you decide you would like to use it as a source in your own essay you will want to select from the tool bar on the right hand side to either email the page to yourself, save it to your library account, or print it. You may also want the proper information to cite your source. To do this click the fourth option in your tool bar labled “Cite”.

A scroll bar will appear and you will need to scroll down to where MLA is provided to retrieve your citation.

Unit Four Prompt: Literature Review/Synthesis

ENG 101: English Composition I
Unit Four Assignment Prompt:
Literature Review/Synthesis

Annotated Bibliography Submission Date:    Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Rough Draft Submission Date:         Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Working Folder Submission Date:    Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Imagine that you have been asked by SIU’s College Life Director to prepare a presentation for Spring Welcome Week 2014 that addresses an issue of our environment. To prepare, the Director asks you to gather and synthesize information on some aspect of this issue into a literature review that will help you locate a focus for your presentation.

The Director asks that your review be an academic essay. Remember that the purpose of synthesizing literature is not only to inform or to assert opinion, but to 1) present specific points from all your sources about your chosen issue and 2) to offer your changing views on the issue as a result of engaging with your sources.

The literature review should draw from a minimum of five sources (three from the Mercury Reader and two from credible, approved sources of your own choosing). These texts must be cited and carefully attributed to their respective authors.

Essay Requirements:

  1. The essay should:
    a.         have a unique, interesting title
    b.         offer logical, clear transitions
    c.         be virtually free of grammatical and surface errors
    d.         give 1+ quote from each source & include an MLA-style Works Cited page
    e.         be 5-6 double-spaced pages (not incl. Works Cited page), 12 pt. font
  1. The introduction should:
    a.         have an opening that captures your reader’s attention
    b.         introduce your topic, articles, and articles’ relevance to your topic
    c.         give your thesis (comments upon current knowledge regarding your issue and your understanding of & reaction to this current knowledge)
  1. The body should:
    a.         briefly summarize each article (2-4 sentences per source)
    b.         analyze all articles, comparing and contrasting their points & strategies
    c.         synthesize all articles, showing your progress toward new understanding
    d.         reflect upon your changing knowledge in response to the texts
  1. The conclusion should:
    a.         restate your thesis and main points
    b.         pull together your new insights and make article relevant to readers
    c.         leave your readers thinking about your topic