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RHE 398T Help Materials

These pages support instructors of RHE 306 and RHE 309 to teach information and digital literacy skills.

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

How to teach to this project

Students may have experience with annotated bibliographies, but it's worth explaining the purpose they serve in the research process.

Annotated bibliographies are an opportunity in the research process to:

  • explore controversies within a topic so that you may narrow your focus
  • consult a variety of perspectives within a controversy and identify stakeholders
  • begin to structure a paper into arguments, counter arguments and to map evidence to claims
  • recognize gaps in your research - here's what I know, but what do I still need to know?
  • make note of quotations or ideas to be paraphrased for further in the writing process. This avoids the familiar, 'wait, where did I see that?' moment that leads to wasted time and accidental plagiarism.

You want to avoid:

  • Not defining the scope for students. How far along are they in narrowing their controversy? Emphasize the scope you want them to work within through examples of manageable research topics. This will help students to refine their searches and not get overwhelmed with avenues to explore.
  • Students searching the literature superficially to satiate the source requirements (pick the top result in their search)
  • Students finding sources for this project, but never searching for sources again. Students tend to conceptualize research in a linear manner when it is iterative. Coach them to allow their arguments to evolve as they learn more and emphasize that delving back into the literature to explore claims is essential.

Writing Center can help with this, too!

A lot of times we encourage students to go to the University Writing Center when they are immersed in writing intensive projects. Writing brief, meaningful annotations for bibliographies that ask for well chosen quotations and/or elegant paraphrasing, is a great place to start encouraging help seeking behavior. Remember that the UWC will see students up to three times per assignment, not per semester.

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