Monday, September 20, 2010

MLA Citation and Annotated Bibliography Resources

LaGuardia's Library Media Resources Center page offers a very comprehensive guide to MLA Citation, including in-text citation and the Works Cited page: go to the LMRC page and follow the "Cite your sources (MLA & APA)" link, choose the "MLA Style Guide," and click on the "Printable version of entire guide (17 page PDF)" link. Or go to the guide directly from here.

For assembling an MLA Works Cited page, I recommend Easybib generates correct citations on the basis of your input and it also uses database technology to look up citations others have already provided -- often, especially with book sources, you don't even have to type out the information on your source. If you register, you can create and edit an ongoing Works Cited page.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers useful guidance on producing an annotated bibliography: check out their definition and overview of the annotated bibliography, their how-to page (which for some reason they call an "example"), and two sample entries. For this class, your entries should be roughly the same level of detail and the same length as their samples.

Each entry in an annotated bibliography begins with a citation in MLA format. The annotation for that entry follows the citation, with a blank line in between. Notice that the annotations in the Purdue guide follow a three-stage format, Summarize-Assess-Reflect, as detailed in the overview. At this stage in the course, most of your annotated bibliography entries will include the first two stages, each in one paragraph.

Paragraph 1: Summarize This paragraph provides a condensed description of the entire source (book, article, etc.) in your own words. (Briefly quoting from the source once in awhile is acceptable.) It should tell your reader what the source is about, without any added commentary or opinion. It should be about 5-7 sentences.

Paragraph 2: Assess In this paragraph, you give your opinion about the quality of the source. What is useful about this source? What does it provide that other sources may not? For example, a source might be useful because it provides a lot of quotations from experts, or because it uses quotation to give a clear sense of what "most people" think about an issue; a source might be useful because it contains good analysis of an issue, or because it makes reference to other sources that could help to further your research.

As you start to focus on a particular topic, some of your entries might include a third paragraph:

Paragraph 3: Reflect Use this paragraph to think about how the source impacts your thinking about your research topic. Has it caused you the change or refine your stance on the topic? Has it suggested a new approach, in terms of research, organization, or language?

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