FYS: First Year Seminar

Guide for the Annotated Bibliography & Research Presentation Assignments

Questions to Consider When Annotating

Questions to help with a concise summary:

  • What is the topic that this source covers?
  • In brief, what does the author say about the topic and the topic’s importance or significance (major names, dates, places, developments, themes/thesis)?

Questions to help with a concise evaluation:

  • How familiar with the relevant material for the topic is the author? Are the materials clearly indicated, and are they mostly primary? mostly secondary?
  • Are there any important things about the topic that the source does not cover? If so, does the author explain why?
  • How well-written is the source (clarity, organization)?
  • How much does the author and the source help you (or readers in general) know and understand about your own topic? Why?

How to Evaluate a Book

When determining whether a book is something you want to investigate further, look at a few items:

  • Title
  • Table of contents
    This give clues as to what material will be covered.
  • Preface or introduction
    Often the authors summarize the arguments they make in the book, outlining the discussion that will occur.
  • Author’s affiliations
    Check the biographies of the authors. Often there's a summary; if not, try a quick Google search on the author. 
  • Date
  • Notes or Citations
    You want to make sure the sources you’re relying on verified and checked their statements.  Footnotes or end notes will indicate that. 
  • Index and bibliography
    Both an index and a bibliography make it easier for other researchers to do their studies.  The presence of these features helps indicate that a work is indeed scholarly. 
  • Publisher
    The type of publisher -- academic, trade, general -- can tell you more about the type of book it is or the audience for which it's intended.

How to Evaluate a Website

AUTHOR

  • Who is the author of this site or page?
  • What are his / her credentials (occupation, position, education, years of experience)?
  • Is the author an expert on this topic?

AFFILIATION

  • What institution or organization supports this information?
  • What is the viewpoint or bias of this group?

AGENDA

  • What is the purpose of this site?  Why was it put on the web?
  • What opinions are expressed by the author?

ACCURACY

  • When was the site last updated?
  • Are statistics and other facts correctly cited?
  • How does this information compare with other sources?