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ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY & FINAL ESSAY GUIDELINES
For your final assignment in this class, you will write a fully realized research paper. You will have several different options for your focus in this essay, but regardless of which one you choose, all essays will meet the same basic requirements: they will be at least ten full pages long, with at least eight sources in your bibliography. Note that the works cited page(s) are not included in this page-count. All essays will have a professional tone, a clearly stated thesis, and a solid structure, with identifiable introduction and conclusion. The use of direct quotes from your sources is recommended – required, if you are expecting to get a top grade – and all sources, quotes, and works should be cited in exact MLA format. If you mention a source in-text, you MUST cite it in your bibliography, and vice versa. Your options for what to write about are as follows:
SOCIAL ESSAY: In this essay, you will identify a social, environmental, or political problem you perceive in your community, present research into the topic, and provide a viable, realistic solution, or at least a means of improvement. The structure for this essay is likely to be problem-solution.
PROFESSIONAL ESSAY: In this essay, you will identify what you believe to be your career path, which you are hopefully working towards by obtaining your college degree. You will explain why this field first interested you, what steps you will need to take both during and after graduation to pursue it, and what you think your ultimate goal might be in following this passion of yours. You are permitted to present this using a first-person style, but it is NOT simply an autobiography about you following this career; you are expected to explain the benefits and drawbacks of your trade, and what larger role you think it plays. This essay might allow for different approaches, but a narrative structure would be one method you could use.
LITERARY ESSAY: In this essay, you will select a work (or small body of connected works) of literature, drama, or poetry, and provide a lengthy analysis of it. Essentially, you will be following the same style as your weekly response papers, but on a much greater scale and with a research component. The works you may choose are by no means limited to the textbook: you have a lot of options in what you can cover. I do request that you only focus on the written word, however, rather than movies, music, games or television; however, such works can be used to augment or draw a comparison with your central subject. The style for this essay will be analytical, although you are allowed to include your critical evaluation of the work(s) in the process.
Prior to the final paper being submitted, you will write an Annotated Bibliography detailing your sources. I include the basic guidelines below:
Once you have selected a topic and are considering a thesis, I would like you to research said topic and find AT LEAST eight different sources pertaining to it. These sources can be anything: books, videos, newspaper articles, blog posts, even a personal interview (though I’d limit that to just one, and it has to be an interview with someone relevant, not just your random friend). Almost any source is acceptable, but include as much variety as possible. If I just see eight articles from the same author at the El Paso Times, it is going to look pretty underwhelming. Also, find something at least semi-professional – as such, while a fully detailed blog post might be a fair source, just quoting somebody in a message board or comment section is unacceptable. Also, do not use sources like Shmoop or Gradesaver, or general sites like wikihow or dictionary.com. On that note, unless a word/term is truly archaic or obscure, you don’t need to waste time defining it. For example, I do not need any more papers that cite Encyclopedia Britannica to tell me what the word “government” means.
After you have your sources, I want you to put them all into an Annotated Bibliography. The actual structure of an Annotated Bibliography should be clear from guidelines in your textbook, and sites like the Purdue OWL will give you a pretty cut-and-dry idea of what these should look like: you start with an MLA citation of your source, followed by a brief but detailed commentary about the source. I’d like each of your annotations to include three or four good sentences, or about one complete paragraph (meaning about half a page, give or take, for each entry). I want you to answer three questions: WHAT is this source, and WHY and HOW are you using it in your research? If you cover that, you are set. Note that while this is a very technical assignment, it won’t actually take very long to write. There is no page count; just take as much room as you need to follow all of the above instructions thoroughly.
Annotated Bibliographies will be due just before Thanksgiving; completed final essays will be due near the beginning of our finals week.