The annotated bibliography is an important step in the research process. It requires you to think about if a source works well for your project and how you might use it. It is a pretty straightforward assignment: you seek out timely, relevant, credible, useful sources from the library; you create a bibliography using MLA standards; and then you annotate the bibliography entries.
- Timely: You want sources that are fairly recent for this project. Sometimes research will lead you to older, more groundbreaking essays, and this is fine. What you want to avoid is, say, magazine articles from the 80s, or outdated research.
- Relevant: Chances are you will NOT find a source arguing the same thing that you are. Good! This means you are exploring new territory––and trust me, there is plenty of that in comedy studies. Also, a source that merely agrees with you is less interesting than a source that challenges your arguments or extends your arguments. Imagine a friend who merely says “I agree” whenever you say something. That’s the source you want to avoid (or save for those days that you need a self esteem boost 😉 ). So, though a source might not be about how “Rick and Morty” uses absurdist humor to parody TV tropes, maybe it is about absurdism in adult animation, or maybe it is about television subverting tropes.
- Credible: This is a big one, for this class and beyond. Have you ever seen someone share a blatantly false story on Facebook, but not realize it’s false? Don’t let that be you! You want to know who your author is and any biases they might have, as well as who your publisher is and any biases they might have (think of how differently the same data can be framed by different perspectives). Is the essay/article self-published? Well, that means no one has vetted it, and it can say almost anything––such is the often case with blogs. But what about a blog that cites credible research? Yes, it’s complicated, so navigate wisely, and read critically. The gold standard in research is peer reviewed. That means that the essay/article/book has been read and critiqued by experts in the field. Magazines, newspapers, and similar publications are usually reviewed by an editor, as opposed to a team of experts in the field. These are also good sources, but you can see how one will lend you more credibility in your paper than the other.
- Useful: Your sources should yield a lot of material for you. You should have many quotations to choose from––quotations that will allow you to expand your thinking. Things like dictionary definitions or biographical information are interesting, but they are not very useful in rhetorical analysis. Since we are dealing with ideas and culture, it’s a lot more useful to discuss, say, howobesity is represented in comedy, as opposed to statistics about obesity, or tips to lose weight. Studies and stats can yield interesting and thought-provoking information, but they usually lend themselves better to reporting. We are more after the things that inform the stats and studies, and how they are read.
You are fortunate to have a vast library at your fingertips. The OSU library is amazing, and you can easily narrow down your database searches to find peer-reviewed research only, or even electronic sources only (as opposed to physical texts). With the vastness, though, comes a lot of results, most of which are totally irrelevant. So you will want to practice using synonyms and specific search terms. You likely have much experience navigating Google––this is similar. If you type “Family Guy” into the search bar, you are going to get about a thousand hits of random ads or TV guide blips about Family Guy. But if you type something like “Family Guy shock humor,” you might find more specific results.
Occasionally it is easier to use Google/Google Scholar. You can find sources there, and then enter their info in the OSU Library database in order to find the full text.
Expectations of your Annotated Bibliography:
- 4 timely, relevant, credible, useful sources
- At least one peer-reviewed source
- Correct MLA style citation (look at the Purdue OWL website for guidance)
- 4-5 sentence annotations following each entry. Annotations should identify where the source comes from and why it’s a good source. Further, they should briefly state how the source contributes to your project.