INT 101 Craig Coleman
This guide is a one-stop-shop for your Annotated Bibliography Assignment. You should be able to find all of the information you need for your assignment from here. If you need any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact Amy Gratz (info at right) or Ask a Librarian.
Primary sources: original objects or documents, such as the raw material from an experiment or a diary from someone during a particular time period. Primary sources include eyewitness accounts, creative works, and empirical research studies. Whether or not a specific source can be considered primary varies by discipline and research topic.
Secondary sources: any work that has been written about a primary source. The key difference between a primary and a secondary source is that there is some distance between the secondary source and the main information being discussed. Some examples include a book about Michelangelo’s artwork, a biography, or an article that discusses or evaluates someone else’s original research.
Tertiary Sources: works that are compiled from information found in primary and/or secondary sources. These are rarely considered appropriate to use in academic research, since they provide an overview that is several steps removed from the original source of information. Examples include encyclopedias, manuals, dictionaries, and textbooks.
Government sources: Documents published by an official governing body for a variety of audiences, ranging from the general public to researchers. These sources are academically appropriate, but not technically scholarly since they are not peer-reviewed, and may not be written by scholars.
Popular or Mass Media sources: Publications intended for the general public; the main purpose is usually entertainment. Whether or not they should be used depends on the research topic.
Reports, Datasets, and Statistics: These may be produced by governments, think tanks, and a variety of other organizations. Depending on who produced the information, these publications may or may not be considered appropriate to use as sources of information for academic publications.
Scholarly sources (aka Peer-Reviewed and Academic): Publications intended for researchers; the main purpose is usually informative. These publications are written by scholars and reviewed by other experts in the field prior to publication. Most scholarly articles are research articles (presenting original research), but some fields also publish review articles (summarizing the research done on a specific topic). These are the most commonly used source type in academic research.
Reasons to use Popular Sources:
- They are easier to understand, because they are written for the general public
- They are more likely to contain information on recent events
- They can give you an insight into what type of information is available to the general populace on a subject
- They are generally the most highly valued source of information in academic circles
- They are written by and reviewed by experts in the field
- The information they contain critically examines some aspect of the world
Regardless of the type of source you have, there are several criteria for deciding whether or not to use it in your paper. Start with the C.R.A.P. test to do a basic evaluation:
Currency: is the information recent enough for your topic?
Relevancy: does the information relate to your topic, either directly or indirectly?
Authority: who wrote the information, and are they an authoritative source?
Purpose: what was the intent of the author when writing this information?
Once you have done a general overview of the source, you will need to do a more in-depth evaluation of the source information. At this point, you will need to do a close, critical reading of the source. Most importantly, you need to apply your own critical thinking skills: does the author's argument make sense? can you think of any counter-arguments or points they failed to consider? Do they seem to be manipulating the data in any way?
Reading Scholarly Research Articles: Since you are not experts in the field, this can be tricky. While you should certainly read the whole thing at least once, I recommend reading the article out of order:
- Read the abstract and introduction
- Look for section headers such as "results" "discussion" or "conclusion" - read these sections thoroughly
- Read through the rest of the article, including any tables or charts
- Read the introduction and conclusion again
Brainstorming Your Topic
When you first start working on an assignment, it can be very helpful to spend a few minutes thinking about your topic and where you want to go with the assignment. For some topics, you might need to start by doing pre-research, where you look for general background information on your topic to learn a little more. This background information then helps you focus your search and choose a topic to write about. Try some of the following strategies if you're not sure where to start:
- Try to imagine what words someone answering your research question might use
- Look up synonyms and related topics or phrases
- Try working with a partner – getting a different perspective is often invaluable
- Identify any common misunderstandings or related topics that you DON’T want in your results
Where to Search
Discovery - an EBSCO service allowing you to search multiple databases and the library catalog simultaneously. It is a useful resource when you're not sure where to start, or if you're searching in multiple disciplines, but you may want to use some of the following databases, as well.
Recommended Databases included in Discovery searches:
If you are getting overwhelmed with the amount of information, or having a hard time finding relevant sources, in Discovery, you may want to try one of these:
- Environment Complete (EBSCO) — Offers coverage in the areas of agriculture, ecosystem ecology, energy, renewable energy sources, natural resources, marine & freshwater science, geography, pollution & waste management, environmental technology, environmental law, public policy, social impacts, urban planning, and more. The database also contains full text for more than 400 journals, including many of the most used journals in the discipline.
- GreenFILE (EBSCO) — GreenFILE covers scholarly and general interest titles, as well as government documents and reports. The database contains nearly 300,000 records, full text for a few selected titles and searchable cited references for more than 200 titles. Topics covered include global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more.
Other Recommended Databases:
These databases also contain information on your topic - including articles you will NOT find in a Discovery search.
- Research Library (ProQuest) — Similar to Academic Search Complete in purpose, this database also provides access to both peer-reviewed and popular sources. You should search both, because they each contain different resources.
- ProQuest Newspapers — Provides full-text access to several major national newspapers. Coverage includes full-text articles but not advertisements, illustrations, or photographs.
- CQ Researcher — Coverage of political and social issues, with reports on topics in health, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the U.S. economy.
NASA Definition of Climate Change and Global Warming - this is one of the resources listed on your assignment, providing a general overview of the topic.
Chasing Ice Website - also listed on your assignment, this is the website for the documentary you watched in class. Use their "Resources" page to help you find additional information and sources you can use in this assignment.
EPA: Climate Change - this link will take you directly to information about Climate Change provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
TEDTalks - TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. On TED.com, the best talks and performances from TED and partners are available to the world, for free. More than 900 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. (Description taken from http://www.ted.com/pages/about)
C-SPAN video archives - this site contains video coverage from C-SPAN, which is dedicated to providing access "to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed." (Description taken from http://www.c-span.org/about/mission/) The archive includes numerous hearings and other proceedings that may be relevant to your topic.
Annotated Bibliographies - Purdue OWL guide: this brief guide explains what annotated bibliographies are and how to format them.
Annotated Bibliographies - Mercer Libraries guide: this slightly longer guide provides some more details about what to look for when critically reading and summarizing a source, and includes some example annotations at the end.