Sample Entries for the Annotated Bibliography

You can find examples of annotated bibliographies on any topic in the world. (I tried googling the words annotated bibliography along with mobile phonesamateur journalism, and buffy the vampire slayer, and I found annotated bibs for them all.) (Yes, this is a valid way to find helpful sources for your project.)

But as I said on the assignment sheet for the annotated bibliography, not everyone writes annotations the same way. So to give an example of what I’m looking for, I’m going to paste in a couple of examples here. Each of them is from a real student, but I tweaked the citations at the beginning to make sure there were no errors.

Sample of a non-scholarly source using APA format

Allabaugh, D. (2013, May 5). Health care lost in translation. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from
This article spends a great deal of time discussing specific events that people needed an interpreter or translator at hospitals or clinics.  This examples prove just how discouraging the frustrating it can be to attempt to take care of people, but fail to do so due to a language barrier.  In rare occasions, hospitals run out of solutions, possibly because a patient speaks a language with a very unique dialect.  In the past, situations like these were never corrected, and although patients still received care, they were not understood due to the language barrier.
However, Skype has made this issue less severe, since it allows medical staff to contact a translator via an online video camera.  The article states, “Interpreters who speak up to 170 different languages, including sign language, are available by Skype 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”  This technology is absolutely remarkable for healthcare workers, because they are able to better understand their patients wants and needs, improving the situation for everyone involved.
This article solely discussed translators and this useful Skype application that is currently available.  The article stated only positives about this technology and did not mention one negative aspect.  This piece was written in an informational manner, attempting to education people about this new software that is now available.
I really liked this article, because I have personally used this Skype software to assist a patient.  I have seen how this software works and as a future nurse, this tool is more than useful for myself and colleagues.  This article was very specific and did not mention too much information about the software’s mechanics or anything of that nature.  This article just discussed that general idea that this type of software is currently available and how effective it can be.  I also like how this article stated that this software can interpret up to 170 different languages, because this factual information is very  helpful when envisioning the effectiveness of this new tool.
The only issues I have with this article is the fact that it was almost too positive and it did not argue anything in particular.  As stated in the summary, this article appeared to be written as an informational piece of writing, designed to educate consumers and businesses about this new up-and-coming device.  The article may have had more substance and strength if it had showcased where Skype needs to improve or some of the faults of this software.

Sample of a scholarly source using MLA format

Phillips, Whitney. “LOLing at Tragedy: Facebook Trolls, Memorial Pages and Resistance to Grief Online.” First Monday 16.12 (2011): n.pag. Web. 15 July 2013.

This paper, written by fourth year Ph.D. student Whitney Phillips, explains different scenarios where Facebook trolling has become a major issue. According to Urban Dictionary, Facebook trolling is “When someone updates their Facebook status, only to get people to comment and “like it.” Phillips opens her paper with a story of Chelsea King, a high school student who went missing one morning. Many Facebook pages and fan pages were made in the hopes to help locate King. These pages soon became memorialized after authorities had discovered that King was raped, murdered, and buried next to a lake in California. A lot of the comments that appeared were common grieving grounds, while other comments that were made were simply rude and inappropriate. Such comments were ultimately removed from the memorial page, as authorities of Facebook do have such a monitoring system. This then lead to other pages being made to mock the Chelsea King’s memorial page. One page in particular, I bet this pickle can get more fans than Chelsea King, was created out of pure mockery and trolling. Even after the news press got involved, the author of the page still seemed unfazed by the situation going public. Phillips goes on in her paper to talk about how other forms of trolling are becoming a huge issue across the Facebook world, and they are most common amongst rest in peace pages.

My thoughts:
I feel like the examples used throughout this paper are well researched and bring Phillip’s points alive. Being able to take all angles into consideration, from the creator of the page, to the fans of the page, to the trolls of the page, to the Facebook mediators of the page, really hits home with how dynamic the whole fan page and memorial page really can be. I feel this paper will help tie to the emotional aspect of my persuasive final project, especially to the members who are emotionally affected by the loss of their loved one or friend. Paulie Socash, a man who monitored his sister’s memorialized Facebook page, looked every day for any harsh comment that would be legitimate enough to ask the Facebook staff to remove the page all together. Phillip ends her paper with a colorfully negative description of how the effects of trolling by stating, “It unearths truths about our relationship to mainstream media. It is simultaneously cruel and amusing and aggressive and playful and real and pretend and hurtful and harmless, as are the trolls themselves.” Not only does she tie the words to the cruel pages and comments themselves, but she also ties them to the Troll who is coming up with these comments. This kind of negativity could help my persuasive point of view by hopefully tying to the emotions of the viewers, because they are real people also.

Brainstorming for the Final Project

I’ve had a number of email exchanges with many of you about how to narrow your ideas for the final project. I’ve enjoyed these emails (keep them coming!), but I’ve also noticed that my responses are starting to fall into a pattern. So it makes sense for me to share my “standard” advice here for everyone.

Not everyone will need to do all these steps. They’re really more for those who walked through the exercises we did in class on Monday (10/21) and still feel as lost as ever.

First Steps

Let’s assume that you’re writing something about education, but you don’t know what. (If you’re not writing about education, just fit your own words into the search terms I suggest.)

  • Do some more brainstorming, specifically about technology and education. Make a big list of every digital technology that is used by everyone involved in education—from the teacher’s side, the administration’s side, the student’s side, the parent’s side, the government’s side, and anyone else you can think of. Does anything in your list strike a chord in you?
  • I’ve used this page on invention from Paradigm Online Writing Assistant in a number of classes over the yeras. It has lots more exercises to help you plumb the depths of what you already know.
  • Try searching education technology site:edu  and see what comes up—it will bring any university website that includes both the words education and technology (though not necessarily next to each other). Are there any results that make you say, “Oh yeah! I hadn’t thought of that”?
  • Head to and try a search for education technology (or maybe some related terms) Even if you can’t access full text articles right away, what issues seem to be brought up a lot? What kinds of ideas do people latch onto when discussing the game in an academic context? (And any article you find there can be accessed, either through our library databases or through an interlibrary loan.)

 Next Steps

Then, if you’re still stumped, I would go to the online databases where you can get the really good scholarly stuff that isn’t available on Google. (If you don’t know what a scholarly journal article is, here’s a solid 3-minute video.) We’ll go over this in class on Friday (10/25), but here’s the short version of how to get in:

  1. Head to the Howard Colman Library home page:
  2. Scroll down to the “I’m SEARCHING for…” section and click “Advanced search” under Journal Articles (not under Books).
  3. If you’re off campus, you’ll have to log in.
  4. Now you should see a big circle in the upper left that says “EBSCO Host,” which means you’re in the database, with access to all kinds of scholarly stuff you can’t find on Google.
  5. Click the box that says “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.”
  6. Type something in the search box and see what comes up. I tried searching education technology and got 32,581 scholarly articles on the topic. (To further narrow, I looked on the left bar of the search results page, clicked “Subject,” and then clicked “show more” to see a box with lots of possible subjects. Clicking one of those makes the results much more manageable.)

I would do a 15-minute browse of those and see if they spark any ideas. And of course, the best articles you find can be saved or printed. (I like to then add the articles to a new note in Evernote so I can access them easily whenever I want.)

Hope this helps! Happy brainstorming!

Extra Credit Opportunity

I mentioned in class before break that there would be an extra credit opportunity related to some upcoming library workshops. This is your official announcement about those. Here’s how it will work:

  • First you’ll attend one of the following four library workshops described in this portal post. (If you attend more than one, you can only get extra credit once. Sorry.)
    • October 23: 7:00PM — APA & MLA citation: Citing sources for academic papers to avoid plagiarism; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115
    • November 6: 7:00PM — Advanced Search Techniques: Develop effective search strategies; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115 UPDATED LOCATION: Howard Colman Library, Rare Book Room
    • November 20: 7:00PM — The Research Process: Demonstrate key steps for refining and researching a topic; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115
    • December 4: 7:00PM — Open Forum: Pre-final exam cram session. Snacks will be provided; Location: Howard Colman Library — Rare Book Room
  • Take a picture of yourself at the event and get it to me somehow. (Email is fine, or you could attach it to a tweet to @rhet351.) Perhaps you could get a picture of yourself with Rachael the librarian, or anything else that shows that you’re really there.
  • Once I get your proof-of-attendance, I’ll exclude your lowest 20-point score in the small assignments category. That’s not exactly the same as giving you a full 20/20; instead, it will be as if that assignment never existed. (Ask me if you’d like to see the math.)

That’s it!

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

UPDATE: I’ve posted 2 sample annotations here.


Photo of notecards layed outThroughout the second half of the semester, you’ll research a topic of your choice related to digital rhetoric for your final multimodal persuasive project. To keep track of that research and share your progress with me, you’ll add items to an annotated bibliography organized in the free program Evernote. We’ll use Evernote both for its functionality (because it’s useful) and to critically analyze it (to ask how it changes the nature of 21st-century communication).

Don’t let the name annotated bibliography scare you. A bibliography is just a list of sources, usually following some formal standard (like MLA or APA). Annotated means “with notes added to it.” (A book that I’ve scribbled in has been “annotated.”) So an annotated bibliography is a certain kind of bibliography, a certain kind of list of sources, one that has lots of notes added to each entry in the bibliography.

Though annotated bibliographies are made differently by different people, entries in them often include a formal citation, a summary of the source, and an evaluation of the source. Their purpose is always to help others understand sources without their having to take the time to read them. So while writing this annotated bibliography, imagine yourself addressing someone who is trying to decide if these sources are useful for them or not.


Over the course of three and a half weeks, write annotations for twelve sources that would be appropriate to use as sources for your academic essay. (When you’re writing about new technologies, a small number of news and magazine stories are appropriate.) At least five must be articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, and at least one must be a book.

Each annotation must include the following 3 elements:

  1. A formal citation of the source in MLA or APA format (up to you)
  2. A paragraph or section summarizing the source in detail
  3. A second paragraph or section evaluating the source in detail. Your evaluation might include a mini rhetorical analysis of the strategies used by the author, notes on the general strengths and weaknesses of the source, your thoughts on how credible the source is, your prediction of how helpful it will be for your final project (and why), or anything else that occurs to you to comment on.

Write each annotation as a separate note in Evernote. (So when the final annotation is due, you’ll have twelve separate notes.) To share these annotations with me, simply write then in an Evernote folder that you have shared with me. (If you miss class on October 21, you’ll need to get notes from someone in class to show you how to share a folder with me.) Once the note is in a shared folder, I can automatically read it.

I also encourage you to add useful tags to each note, but that’s not a requirement. (Here’s how.)


deeveepix - evernote-iphoneI’ll grade your annotations based on the correctness of your citations (i.e. how exactly it follows MLA or APA format) and the evidence that you put effort into writing a complete summary and a detailed evaluation.

You’ll receive two grades on your annotated bibliography:

  • Check-in: Before class begins on Friday, November 1, have at least four entries completed in your shared Evernote folder. Be as careful with these as possible, so I can give you advice on what you most need to work on before the final check. I’ll give you a 13/20, 17/20, or 20/20 based on how much effort it seems you put into doing those four notes well in all 3 categories (citation, summary, evaluation).
  • Final Check: Before class begins on Friday, November 15, have all twelve entries completed in your shared Evernote folder. (I’ll go get them there; you don’t need to submit anything else.) This grade will count as 10% of your final course grade, so I’ll be more formal with my grading: you’ll get a score for your citations, summaries, and evaluations, and your final score will be the average of these three.


  • Consider setting up a personal schedule for when you will write about longer or shorter sources. For instance, since you’ll have to include one book as a source, it would make sense to identify it early on, read it over a couple of weeks, and then write one of your last annotations on that book. You might want to write about shorter news stories early on and academic articles in the middle, too. It’s up to you.
    • Remember that you can get any book or article that exists through an inter-library loan. It’s free and easy: fill out the form here.
  • Twitter is a great place to find up-to-date information to respond to in an annotation. As you start to imagine what your final project topic will be, I encourage you to search out new Twitter feeds relating to it.
  • If someone else in class is working on a similar topic, feel free to share sources. Your annotations must be written by you, but you can collaborate to find sources if you like.
  • Any reading from the Social Media Reader that we didn’t read as a class is fair game for an annotation. (For the final project, you may use any sources we read throughout the semester, but it wouldn’t make sense to annotate those for this assignment.)

Images: Christmas w/a K, “External Memory – Analog saved me” and deeveepix, “evernote/iphone

Research Proposal Assignment


As you know, we’re building up toward a final project in which you will make an argument about a focused topic related to digital technology and rhetorical communication. You’ve already started to do some thinking about what your topic might be, but now it’s time to formalize your plans one step further. That is, it’s time to convince me that your topic is appropriate and that you’re on the right track.


Write a brief proposal that describes your research topic, describes the specific claim you want to make about that topic (as far as you know it at this point), and convinces me that your chosen topic is strong. By “strong,” I mean a topic on which you can find lots of sources and on which you have something unique to offer.

Write your proposal as a new post on your blog. Your post should have exactly two or three paragraphs, no more or less.

You may find it helpful to write one paragraph that establishes the importance of the topic by describing what some of your key sources say about the topic, followed by one more paragraph describing the unique contribution and argument you intend to bring to this topic.


This is a 40-point grade in the Small Assignments category (twice as important as a reading response post). I’ll assign your proposal a grade based on the following characteristics:

  • Convincingly demonstrates that this is an important topic
  • Convincingly demonstrates that you have something unique to add to the conversation
  • Strong, edited sentences free of error

Due Date

Post your proposal to your blog before class begins on Friday, October 25.


Before writing the proposal, be sure first to consider if your topic is arguable and worth discussing. (By “arguable,” I mean it’s something reasonable people disagree on. For example, it’s not really arguable that a new medical technology should be used to help sick people get better, since everyone wants sick people to get better. No one would disagree with you.) Here are a few other characteristics of strong topics:

  • Sources: Strong topics have been written about a lot—in popular magazines, newspapers, and books as well as academic books and journal articles. Feel free to mention some of these sources in your proposal, a move that will prove to me that you can find the good stuff out there.
  • New perspective: Make sure you pick a topic that you have a lot to say about. I want you to add something unique to the conversation! If your topic is strong, you should be able to find a lot written about the topic but still feel confidant that you have an angle that no one else has written about in the way you’re imagining.
    • If you’re struggling with this, one way to add something new is to add a personal perspective.
    • Another way: presenting the argument in a new way for online audiences (infographics, audio, video, etc.).
  • Chance for convincing audiences: Strong topics are those on which you can conceivably convince audiences to change their attitudes or actions in a researched webtext. If you feel unqualified to convince the main actors who control a situation, perhaps you want your piece to raise up public support for your point of view in hopes that a crowd can lead to actual change. Some examples:
    • No chance to convince actual audiences: “I want to convince people to stop using their cell phones while driving! It’s killing people!”
    • Possible chance to convince actual audiences: “While I recognize that I can’t convince people to stop using their phones in the car, I do think that there are a number of small steps that everyday citizens can take to use phones more safely–steps that research shows will be likely to be shared on social media with the possibility of going viral. These include _________.”
    • No chance to convince actual audiences: “Online comments are often mean and bigoted! People need to stop being jerks online!”
    • Possible chance to convince actual audiences: “While I recognize that I can’t convince people to stop being jerks online, I have found that research suggests that people overwhelmingly want to be kind to strangers in face-to-face settings. To help bring basic civility to online discussions, I want to suggest some ways that this research applications can be applied to online settings. These include _______________.”
  • Personal: Strong topics are close to you; you encounter them daily and think about them daily. You know a lot about them and care about them because they affect you.