|Essays #3 and #4
and the Annotated Bibliography
Your research for Essay #3 and an annotated bibliography should lead you to reliable sources that will help you write a good, short research paper (Essay #4).
Developing background knowledge, choosing a topic, and finding sources
First you should try to gain background knowledge on a topic, if you are not writing on something that you have studied in a class. On the class website, you will find documents on ways of finding possible topics, developing background knowledge, and tracking down the names of researchers who are working in your field. You should also consult the list of Sources to Use. Please note that while textbooks and encyclopedia articles can be helpful at the start of your research, these are not useful for your final research paper; your research paper must be focused on a narrow and specific subject. Your model for the final paper is not an encyclopedia article, but an essay which has a thesis and introduces the audience to issues and research on a particular issue.
After reading some articles, you should know what topic and research you might pursue or questions you will want to answer. Find one article to analyze for Essay #3, then locate other sources. The best types of sources to use are listed in the document on the class website; please note as well the caution about sources you should not use. While I know that most students cannot read and fully understand technical journal articles or scholarly books, you should at least explore the journals in your field to see what you might find. Be aware that the college databases will sometimes supply you with materials labeled ‘journals’ which are not really that at all. But at least if you check off the “peer-reviewed” box, you will eliminate other things. Do what you can to find the best sources available on the subject. If you get location information but not full text, see if the library can get the material for you. Investigate your authors’ education, background, and experience. Think critically about what they are saying and find out what other researchers think of their work.
Writing Essay #3
For Essay #3, you should choose one good article to analyze. As before, you should look at the audience, author’s background and presentation of self, and of course the contents—the facts, the logical connections made between the facts and claims, and the conclusions. Pay attention to the language used.
Assembling the bibliography
Start doing research for your bibliography by looking for names of researchers in your first article or for terms used in the topic. You will find different databases are useful for different topics, so go beyond Academic Search Complete, if you cannot find what you are looking for there. Also note how subjects are listed in the index and realize they may be listed differently in different databases. For example, if you are studying the growth of the brain in young people, should you look for “teenagers” or “adolescents” as subjects when you search?
For a discussion of annotations, look at the UNC Website below; it provides a discussion of bibliographies and offers examples of what annotations should look like. You should use a combination of the summary and critical/analytical formats for your annotations. Do not just copy what is in the database abstract (that would be plagiarism!). You should certainly say much more than “Good source. Got it from Oakton’s database.”
Writing Essay #4
As you go along and do more research for your final paper, you may want to add or drop some sources--that’s to be expected. Your final paper should have at least as many sources as you have pages (not one source used per page, however). How many and what kind of sources you use will depend upon your subject and your level of expertise in the field. Your purpose in writing the final paper will be to inform the reader, not to argue something based on opinions only. You will have a thesis which states your main point, and you may be asked to write up a short summary of your findings to present to the class.
Important materials for you to read
Class Website: www.oakton.edu/~bcrocket
Folder is English 101.spring 2013
Developing Background Knowledge (on the anthropology of the horse)
Sources to Use
Essays #3 and #4 (this document)
Research on Professions (for those doing research on possible careers)
Websites to consult
Purdue OWL on MLA format:
Section on Annotated Bibliographies from UNC:
Reminder: We meet in the computer lab (2625) on March 18th, so that you can ask questions and work on your bibliography and Essay #3. I will also return Essay #2 and have conferences with individual students during class time.
Draft of Essay #3 and Annotated Bibliography—Wednesday, March 20th at the start of class.
Draft of Essay #4–Monday, April 1 at the start of class