What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Sometimes researchers want to know more about the context of a source, and why the writer has chosen to focus on it in their work. That’s where annotated bibliographies come in.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, documents, etc. Normally, a works cited page or reference list simply displays each source via a citation. However, in an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph. This paragraph is known as the “annotation,” and is usually only about 100-150 words long.

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, location, and quality of the sources that are cited in the paper or work. You should always check with your teacher or professor first to see if an annotated bibliography/works cited page is needed for your paper.

Has your teacher asked you to write an annotated bibliography for your paper? Don’t know how to get started? Check out the example below for some quick tips on how to structure an annotated bibliography.

The following example uses APA format (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) for a journal citation. While the format for the citation itself would change if you used a different style, such as MLA format, the format of the annotation itself would remain the same:

Annotated Bibliography example

What is a Bibliography?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, or take notes on someone else’s work, you should keep track of the sources the information came from. This will help you avoid plagiarism when you begin writing.

You can keep track of your sources in a few different ways:
  • Place the author’s name in parentheses after quoted or paraphrased text.
  • Organize your notes under headings with the source information.
  • If using note cards to keep track of information, write the source of the information on the back of each card.
In addition to the above, you should also create a bibliography.

What is a Bibliography?
Let’s begin with a brief definition. A bibliography is a list of sources that an author used to write their piece. It is usually included at the end of a project or paper, and includes information about each source like the title, author, publication date, and website if the source is digital. Each set of source information is called a citation.

For example, here is a website citation in MLA format:

Joyce, Christopher. “Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It.” NPR, 19 July 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/19/538166682/plastic-is-everywhere-and-recycling-isnt-the-end-of-it.

A bibliography usually has several citations. Here is an example of a bibliography (unformatted):

Works Cited

Azzarello, Marie Y., and Edward S. Van Vleet. “Marine Birds and Plastic Pollution.” Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 37, no. 2/3, 1987, pp. 295–303. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24824704.

Hall, Eleanor J. Recycling. KidHaven, 2005.

Hopewell, Jefferson, et al. “Plastics Recycling: Challenges and Opportunities.” Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, vol. 364, no. 1526, 2009, pp. 2115–2126. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40485985.

“How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?” It’s Okay to Be Smart. YouTube, 28 Mar. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFZS3Vh4lfI.

Joyce, Christopher. “Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It.” NPR. 19 July 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/19/538166682/plastic-is-everywhere-and-recycling-isnt-the-end-of-it.

Manrich, Sati, and Amélia S. F. Santos. Plastic Recycling. Nova Science Publishers, 2009.

Why Have a Bibliography?
​There are many benefits to creating a bibliography. Listen to the sound clip below:

In summary, bibliographies serve many purposes:
  • They help you keep track of your own research.
  • They can help your readers find more information on the topic.
  • They prove that the information in your research came from trustworthy sources.
  • They give credit to the original sources and authors.
  • It is a central location for all of your citations.

How Do I Create a Bibliography?
What your bibliography looks like will depend on a few different things, including what information you want/need to keep track of and what citation style you are using.

There are several different citation styles. Each requires slightly different information and formatting. The most popular styles used are MLA format and APA format. You can follow a citation guide, use a citation generator like BibMe, or see your teacher to help you structure your bibliography.

There are also plagiarism checker services that can assist you with identifying text that may need a citation, and then helping you create citations.

What is an Essay?

Over the course of your studies, you have probably been asked to write an essay. So what exactly is an essay? What are its components? How do you write a good one? Read on for some helpful tips!

What is an Essay?
Generally, an essay is a written piece that presents an argument or the unique point of view of the author. They can be either “formal” or “informal.” “Formal” refers to essays that are done for a scholarly or professional purpose.

“Informal” essays, conversely, express personal tastes and interests, and can have an unconventional writing structure. Essays are meant to provide a platform for writers to express their ideas within a specific type of format.

What are the Different Types of Essays?
There are many different types of essays, each with their own individual purpose and method of presenting information to the reader. Here are the most common:

1. Narrative: Usually written about a personal experience, these tell a story to the reader.

2. Argumentative: Requires research on a topic, collection of evidence, and establishing a clear position based on that evidence.

3. Descriptive: The writer must describe an object, person, place, experience, emotion, etc., and is usually granted some stylistic freedom.

4. Expository: Often in a “compare and contrast” format, this also requires an original thesis statement and paragraphs that link back to a central idea.

What Makes a Good Essay?
To construct a well-formed essay, you need to include several different key components. These are vital to ensuring that the reader is convinced of your argument, hooked on your story, or adequately informed on your topic.

Almost all essays should be broken into four parts: Intro, Body, Conclusion, and Citations. Within these four parts, be sure to include the following components:

Introduction
Your introductory paragraph should serve to frame the rest of your paper in the reader’s mind. Think of it like a preview; you want them to move forward from here with a clear understanding of what the central idea of your paper is.

In order to frame the central idea, many essays contain a thesis statement, which is a one or two sentence phrase that captures the theme of the paper. These should be as specific as possible, and should be included as the last part of your intro paragraph.

Example thesis statement:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
Body
The body of your essay is where your evidence is presented and/or your point of view is made clear to the reader. Each body paragraph should further the central theme you put forth in your thesis statement.

The body paragraphs should each include a topic sentence that drives the rest of the paragraph, and relates back to the thesis statement. Be sure to include transition sentences between paragraphs to ensure a nice flow to your writing.

Within each paragraph on a specific idea, present any outside evidence that you have used to formulate your idea. Here is where you should be sure to include any necessary in-text citations, whether they be in MLA format, APA format, etc.

Conclusion
Your conclusion paragraph should neatly wrap up all of your ideas and evidence, calling the reader back to your original thesis statement. A good way to conclude your writing is to restate your thesis statement or central idea in a different way, making sure to include the main points you made in your paper.

If you are having trouble formulating your essay’s conclusion, read through your paper and then say to yourself “So what?” This helps to summarize the main idea of your paper in your mind.

Make sure that your reader is left with an impression or something to think about in relation to your topic. This is a hallmark of an effective essay. This is most important in argumentative essays.

Citations
Depending on what citation format your teacher prefers (MLA format, APA format, etc.), you should include a reference list at the end of your essay, which lists the outside sources where you attained information while creating your paper.

The citations in your reference list should include any sources that you have referenced within the body of your essay using in-text or parenthetical citations.

For help with creating citations, check out the citation guides on BibMe here http://www.bibme.org/citation-guide.

Finally, always remember to proofread your essay before handing it in to your teacher!

6 College Tips for Freshmen

So you’ve applied, been accepted, and now it’s time to go. However, gone are the days of your high school guidance counselor choosing your classes. To help make the transition a bit more smooth, we’ve included 6 tips.

Schedule an Advising Appointment
Your collegiate Academic Advisor is a tremendously useful resource for your years in university life. They are there to be a resource for you in all aspects of life, from academics to personal crisis. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to meet with them on your registration day. They will likely ask some questions about your ambitions, what type of student you want to be while at college, and the usual “getting to know you” type of drill. Take all of these questions seriously, as they will really help your advisor to steer you in the right direction.

Take Time to Look Around Housing
Your dorm room will soon be your home away from home. In order to get an idea of what dorm life is like, ask to see a demo room in one of your school’s housing complexes. Consider taking a tape measurer with you to get an idea of layout and furniture and take some pictures to share with your roommate.

Get Your Student ID
School may not start for another few months, but that does not mean you can’t start taking advantage of student discounts! Most universities load your information into their ID database in the few weeks after you accept your offer. Consult your school’s ID center for specific information and requirements, but generally a government issued photo ID is all you’ll need to get your card. As an added benefit, by getting your card early, you’ll save yourself lots of time since you won’t have to wait in line during the first few days of classes.

Eat in the Dining Halls
Even if your school is not picking up the tab, your registration day can be a great way to get a feel for your school’s dining centers. Almost all universities offer day passes which you can purchase at the door.

Leave Mom and Dad Behind
Today is your day. For the first time in your life, you get to set the tone for your year. Let your parents go to meetings designated for them and start getting some practice in adulting by attending the other meetings on your own. They are only a text away with any questions that come up, and you will see them again in a few short hours.

Come in With a Plan
Part of being an adult is picking and then sticking with a plan. Have an idea of what types of classes you might want to take, a plan for General Education requirements, and a set of goals for the upcoming year.

Best of luck to you as you start your collegiate journey!

Writing Tip: BibMe can help you easily cite your sources in MLA format, APA format, and more!

What is a Paraphrase?

One of the goals of a research project is to defend your argument or claim by using other sources as evidence. We do this when we argue or engage in a discussion with our friends; we backup our claims by including evidence from other sources, perhaps by sharing information from an article we’ve read or a show we’ve watched.

When creating a research project, we backup our claims in the same way. We either include exact lines of text or we paraphrase the information from other sources. This page focuses on how to effectively paraphrase information from other sources.

Before we get started, what is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is the act of using another person’s information in your own project, but rewording it in a way that uses your own words and writing style.

Why Paraphrase?
Quotes are useful and great to use in a paper, but not as the sole content of the paper. Imagine filling a paper with nothing but quotes related to your topic. It’d be easy to do, but the paper would not include any of your own thoughts and your teacher may view the paper as lazy and not well written. On the other hand, with a paraphrase you put the information into your own words. This demonstrates that you’ve understood and critically considered information. In addition, it’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate your own thoughts on the topic.

Paraphrasing is also a useful way to concisely summarize information. Perhaps you loved a long passage but you don’t want to quote the entire thing in your paper. Solution: simply paraphrase it!

What it Looks Like
Let’s look at a direct quote, or exact line of text, from the famous children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl:
Walking to school in the mornings, Charlie could see great slabs of chocolate piled up high in the shop windows, and he would stop and stare and press his nose against the glass, his mouth watering like mad. Many times a day, he would see other children taking creamy candy bars out of their pockets and munching them greedily, and that, of course, was pure torture (Dahl 8).
To paraphrase this properly, we need to reword it in a different way, using our own style of writing, while capturing the same meaning and essence of the movie quote.

Here’s an acceptable paraphrase for the paragraph from the book:
Poor Charlie would suffer as he watched his classmates enjoying chocolate bars and as he passed the candy store, which was fully stocked with delicious treats (Dahl 8).
In the above example, we’re using the same concept and idea as the book’s text, but writing it in our own words.

What it’s Not
Paraphrasing is tricky because it requires us to read text, analyze it, and write it out in our own words and in our own style.
It is NOT acceptable to simply substitute the words in the text with synonyms.

Here’s an unacceptable paraphrase for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory passage:
While strolling to class at daybreak, Charlie viewed giant pieces of chocolate stacked in the store’s windows. He would gaze at the chocolate and squeeze his nose to the window pane, drooling like crazy. On numerous occasions during the day, he’d view classmates pulling luscious chocolate bricks from their pockets and enjoy them immensely. It was awful for Charlie (Dahl 8).
This paraphrase is too similar to the original quote. It’s considered plagiarism!

How to Paraphrase
Follow these steps to paraphrase text from a source:
  1. Read the text from the original source and re-read it again to fully comprehend the author’s meaning.
  2. Put the information to the side and without looking at it, rewrite the information in your own words and in your own style.
  3. Glance at the original source again to make sure you have included the key concepts in your paraphrase.
  4. Even though you paraphrased the information in your own words, you still need to show that the information came from another source. You do this by creating an in-text citation and placing it after the paraphrase. You can see the in-text citations in the examples above. They are shown as (Dahl 14). The next section explains how to properly create and format an in-text citation.

How to Cite a Paraphrase
While getting into a heated debate with our friends, it’s always helpful to backup our argument with evidence from other sources, but what we generally do not do is share who the author of those sources are. That’s something that we must do with research projects. Depending on which citation style you choose to format your paper in, such as MLA format, APA format, or one of the hundreds of other styles available on BibMe, you have to include a couple of items about the source, directly after, or close to the paraphrase. This helps the reader understand that the text or information they read is coming from another source.

Here are the most common ways to cite a paraphrase in the body of your work:
MLA:
(Last name of the Author page number).

Example:
Here is my paraphrase (Dahl 8).

APA:
(Last name of the Author, year the source was published).

Example:
Here is my paraphrase (Dahl, 1998).

These in-text citations provide brief information about the source. If a reader wants to find more information about the exact source, they can head to the last page of the project and review the Works Cited list, Reference page, or bibliography. That’s where the reader can find the full citations, which tells more about the source.

Here’s the full citation in MLA:
Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Puffin Books, 1998.

Here’s the full citation in APA:
Dahl, R. (1998). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London, England: Puffin Books.



Planning the Perfect College Schedule

Think back to those high school days where you would roll out of bed at 6 am, get to school, and follow the same schedule as everyone else. Now, imagine a place where you can set your own schedule, choose your professors, and establish the routine for the day. Welcome to college! To help you make the perfect college schedule, here are 5 tips to make your routine a good one.

Be Realistic About Your Sleep Schedule
Are you the type of person to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, even if it’s 6 a.m.? That may have been the case in high school, but be sure you fully consider the college workload and social atmosphere before choosing to take early classes. Most college students think 10 or 11 am is a “sweet spot” for class starting times, and tend to find they lose focus around 3 p.m.

Schedule Time for Lunch
Nothing is worse than going to back-to-back classes in the middle of the lunch breaks. Do your stomach a favor by scheduling a break of at least 1 hour to eat mid-day. Then, stick to it. As tempting as it may be, try to take this time to relax so that when you return to classes, you can do so with focus.

Don’t Schedule Too Many Classes on One Day
In college, you need to focus not only on class time, but also on homework. On average, expect to spend at least an hour and a half of homework for every hour spent in class. To that end, it really isn’t a good idea to schedule your homework-intensive classes on one day. You will find you become swamped with work on these days, even if you are a person who generally manages your time well.

Count Credit Hours, and Classes
Most, if not all, classes at your institution should have a number of credit hours associated with them. A standard class will generally be around 3 credits, while more intensive classes may be up to 5 credit hours. Light classes are generally offered at 1 or 2 credits. With that in mind, most students schedule approximately 15 credit hours per semester. However, keep in mind that several low-credit classes can be just as intense as a few high-hour classes.

Listen to Your Academic Advisor
Advisors are a godsend when it comes to planning academic work. Before making your schedule final, be sure to sit down with them to make sure that your plan makes sense, will help you accomplish your academic goals, and is reasonable. Be sure to ask any and all questions you have; these people genuinely want to help you be the best student you can be.

With great choice, comes great responsibility. But, with these tips in mind you are well on your way to planning the perfect college schedule.

When you have a paper to write, BibMe can help you cite your sources in MLA format, APA format, and more!

How to Choose a College Major

Deciding where to go to college is tricky, but once you get to college, there’s another tough decision on the horizon: what to major in. Unless you have a very specific idea of what you want to do post-graduation, it can be difficult to pick a major.

Here are some tips to make this process a bit more straightforward for students who aren’t quite sure what they want to study.

Tip #1: Find out what you don’t like first
The idea is to major in something you’re passionate about. For students who are unsure of what to study, the first semester of college is a great opportunity to explore a bit. Colleges offer all sorts of classes that are more specialized than what you’d find in a high school classroom—and new students, having never been exposed in certain subjects, have no way of ruling things out. Try a few different classes that seem interesting to you, and pay attention to what you really don’t like before focusing on what you do—eliminating specific fields is helpful, particularly early on in your collegiate career.

Tip #2: Read about the major requirements
Maybe you want to major in finance, but then start reading through the major’s requirements and realize you have to take two calculus courses, when you absolutely hated calculus in high school. Or maybe you’re considering a comparative literature major in high school—but you have to take a language, when you struggled with Spanish classes previously. Majors have all sorts of additional requirements beyond core classes, and you should be fully aware of those requirements before making a commitment.

Tip #3: Talk to your advisor
Many colleges require you to meet with your advisor before choosing a major, but even if your school doesn’t, you might want to schedule a meeting with your four-year advisor to discuss the pros and cons of a major. Advisors can offer you insight from their years of experience. They can also refer you to someone else if they don’t feel equipped to answer your questions. You might also want to talk to an older student currently on the major track you’re considering. Whatever you decide, it’s smart to have a conversation with someone else within the school before committing.

Tip #4: Consider data regarding majors
There are tons of data points available about the majors that are the most popular and the majors with the best earning potential. This data might play into your decision. It’s helpful to look not just at data on a national level, but also at your school in particular. Is your school highly-ranked for certain majors? Is there information on job placement rates post-graduation? Knowing data about your school can help you determine what strengths you may be able to take advantage of.

Numbers are helpful, but remember that numbers also are sometimes misleading. If you’re really passionate about a particular area but feel pressure to pick another major that yields higher average earnings post-graduation, keep in mind that these numbers are just averages, and there are exceptions to every rule.

Ultimately, You Dictate Your Career
You might feel like once you’ve chosen a major, you’ve chosen a career. While what you major in will likely dictate what direction your career goes in—especially when you’re searching for that first internship or post-grad job—it’s important to remember that people have successful careers all the time in industries that have little to do with their majors. Your major will definitely dictate your college curriculum, but it doesn’t have to dictate your career.
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Choosing a major may be hard, but citing doesn’t have to be! Cite easily in MLA format, APA format, Chicago, or more with BibMe citation tools.

6 Simple Tips for Crushing the SAT Reading Test

Are you working on preparations for the SAT, but just can’t seem to master the Reading & Writing section? If so, we’ve got some tips for you to get your best score yet!

1 – When asked about grammar, don’t worry about comprehension

You do not have to understand the prose of a text in order to evaluate its grammatical correctness. Instead, focus on grammar rules like comma usage and structure. Test designers will often throw in challenging writing to confuse the test-taker, even though the question at hand is a simple one.

2 – Use underlining for important points in passages

Any time a new character is introduced, the setting changes, or when you encounter a tough vocabulary word, it can be helpful to mark it for questions that will likely appear over that area or detail of the passage later on.

3 – Learn to speed read

Learning how to read more efficiently can take time and requires a lot of practice. But, by learning how to speed up your reading, you can free up some additional time to answer and think about tougher questions. Ask your English teacher for some help and keep practicing increasing your speed while still having a good grasp on comprehension.

4 – Break down words

Read unfamiliar words slowly in your head and try to break them into parts. Maybe you can’t remember the definition of the word “oceanography” but if you remember that “ocean” deals with water and “ography” refers to the study of a particular subject, you’re likely to figure out oceanography is the study of oceans. Apply this to complex words to help you get a basic understanding of the word, even if you aren’t 100% sure of the exact definition.

5 – Watch the clock

Don’t devote too much time to a single passage or set of questions. Instead, break them up into even time intervals and spend an equal amount of time on each one. Remember that every question is weighted equally. Easy questions count just as much as the harder ones. It’s always a good idea to have a watch with you, but do make sure that any noises are turned off before you enter the testing room.

6 – Read for pleasure

It can be tough making time to read a book with the pressures of school and extracurriculars. But, doing so will pay off hugely when it comes time to take the SAT. Try to find passages like those on the test: books broken down into short readings at a high level. Though it’s no longer necessary to study SAT vocabulary words, it certainly doesn’t hurt to expand your vocabulary. With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to acing your SAT Reading and Writing sections!

Have a paper coming up? Cite your sources with ease using BibMe citation services for MLA format, APA format, and more!
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How to Use a Database: An Introduction

Online databases are convenient and reliable sources of information for the completion of research projects. They can house thousands of books, journal articles, magazines, and art collections all within one easily searchable platform. The large scope of these databases, however, means that they may not always be the simplest sources to navigate. Here are some tips on how to efficiently use databases like JSTOR and WorldCat for a research project.

Take Advantage of Full-Text Searching

Most databases support full-text searching on their website, meaning that you can type in full words, phrases, or sentences to find a reputable source. Start With a General Search If you begin researching too specific of a topic, you may end up with very few search results.

Do an Advanced Search

Once you have narrowed down a topic, try an advanced search. Most databases have an advanced search option that lets you choose more specific search criteria. For example, options to look for certain source formats (e.g. book, video, image, journal, etc.) and to narrow your search to sources published on or before a certain year.

Try Boolean Operators

“Boolean operators,” or the words “AND,” “OR,” or “NOT,” can be helpful when using the advanced search feature and when inputting multiple words into your search. Using the operator AND will retrieve articles that mention both terms somewhere in the article. Using OR between the two terms will retrieve articles that mention either term. If you wanted to exclude terms, you would use the Boolean operator NOT. For example, if you were writing a paper on the Civil Rights Movement, but not on Martin Luther King, Jr., you would type “NOT Martin Luther King.” If Pinpointing a Source, Be Specific If you know what source you are looking for already, try searching by author, title, identifying number (books have ISBN, journals have DOI), or a combination of any of the above.

Keywords Are Your Friend

If you are unsure of the specific source you would like to use, but know what subject your paper is covering, try using specific keywords. For example, if your paper is on Charles Darwin, you could use relevant keywords such as “Origin of Species,” “H.M.S. Beagle,” or “Darwinism.” You can also use phrases, such as “Charles Darwin Galapagos.” The best thing to do here is to be as specific as possible. Use keywords that are closely related to your topic.

Need Primary Sources?

When looking for primary sources, you should utilize archives and special collections. These types of databases are more likely to hold older sources, and works published during the event you are researching. A good place to look is the National Archives at www.archives.gov, or another large research library. Keep in mind that primary sources don’t necessarily have to be books. They could be maps, letters, photographs, paintings, etc.

Need Secondary Sources?

When looking for secondary sources, start your research by looking for the most recent source related to your topic. Make sure that your argument/thesis still fits in with current academic research on the subject. New ideas and breakthroughs get published every day!

Avoid Wikipedia, If Possible

While a good place to get a general idea of your topic, it is not always a reliable container of sources. Instead, try using online encyclopedias, such as Encyclopedia Britannica.

Deciding on a Database

If you’re trying to decide which database to use, see if you can find one that relates to your specific subject area. For instance, Brigham Young University has a database for primary sources related to British History from the years 1486-1688. It is also helpful to ask a librarian for assistance.

Don’t Forget to Cite the Source, Not the Database

Knowing what information to use when creating citations can be confusing. Just remember that you should cite the resource you are using and not the database itself. For example, if you used JSTOR to find information on dinosaurs, you would cite the book chapter or journal article found in your search. In MLA format, the database you used is mentioned at the end of the citation. In APA format and Chicago style, your teacher can see that you used a database by looking that the URL you include.

These tips on using a database are helpful, but the best way to learn is to jump onto a database and try it out for yourself. Happy researching!

Vancouver Style Citation Guide Coming Soon!

Big news! Vancouver Style!

We are excited to announce that BibMe will soon have a comprehensive citation guide for Vancouver style!  We hope to have the guide ready to go by the start of this coming academic year.  In the mean time, you can use our Vancouver (author-date) or Vancouver (brackets, no “et al.”) automatic citation generators!

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Modern day Vancouver. (Image Courtesy of Darren Stone)
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