As I evaluate your annotated bibliographies, I’ll ask these questions.
- Are the five sources clearly united around a problem and/or a solution? Are most of the sources scholarly? Are the works cited page entries excellent?
- Does each annotation clearly and concisely summarize the source’s key ideas?
- Does each annotation clearly and briefly identify and explain the thesis of its source?
- Does each annotation include an attributive tag? Is the kind of source named? (Is the source a scholarly article, white paper, think tank study, government website, book, podcast, blog, newspaper, museum exhibition, or something else?)
- Does each annotation discuss how the student might plan to use the source in the final proposal essay? (Might the source, for example, be used to support the student’s solution, as background or context for the problem, as part of a concession or counterargument, or for other purposes?)
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” I give the essay some kind of C. If the answer to most of the questions is “no,” its grade will be lower. To essays that have received “yes” answers to the questions above, I add the following:
- Does the annotation briefly evaluate the credibility of the source? Specifically, does it mention any limitations or biases of the source? (Is it outdated, are there questions about credentials, conflicts of interest, or other reasons the source may be unreliable?)
- Does the annotation briefly mention comparisons and contrasts among other sources in the bibliography? (Does it point to agreements or disagreements, or note minor or major variations between your sources?)
- Are boundaries between the objective annotation and the student’s comment clear? (The bulk of the entry should be a neutral summary of the source. The student’s evaluations, plans, and connections should come after the summary. Transitions should identify them clearly. Readers should not be able to confuse what sources say with how students feel.)
- Are spelling, grammar, and organization excellent? Is the annotated bibliography between four and six pages?
Depending on my answers to these questions, I give the assignment some kind of A or some kind of B.