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WR 362: Science Writing  

Resources for a course on popular science writing.
Last Updated: May 8, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Lit Review Research Print Page

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (references cited), such as books, journals, newspapers, magazines, Web Pages, etc., each of which is followed a description or summary of each item.

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

Depending on the assignment, the annotated bibliography may serve a number of purposes. This includes but is not limited to:

  • a review of the literature on a particular subject
  • illustrate the quality of research that you have done
  • provide examples of the types of sources available
  • describe other items on a topic that may be of interest to the reader
  • explore the subject for further research

Reading Tips

Learning how to read academic literature, both articles and books, takes practices.  Here are some tips to help you become a more focused reader:

  • Read with your question in mind (usually your thesis or research question)
  • Write a short "take home message" about the significance of the article as it relates to your research question.  Then it is easy to transition from these notes to your literature review draft.
  • Re-read articles - but with new questions in mind, not because you forgot the contents of the article.

NY Times Topic Ideas

  • New York Times Topics
    An alphabetical list of topics that have been covered in the New York Times. Click on the topic see a list of articles.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a popular way to brainstorm about your topic or to take notes about an article or presentation.  Start with the main topic in the center and then think of a variety of related subtopics that you want to explore.  Mind maps allow you to be flexible and to see alternative ideas you may not initially have considered.

Mind Map by Xmind

You can either use paper and pencil or you can use a variety of free or commercial products to create mind maps.  See some suggested options below.  (This mind map was made with the free version of XMind.)


Note taking Tables

Some of us think in a more linear way and find it useful to enter notes in tables rather than in mind or concept maps.  This table is one illustration of what types of information you can gather from the articles or books that you read.  If this table is helpful, you can download the handout version below.

Notes Table

Reference Sources for Choosing a Topic

  • Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography  Icon
    Provides information on the history of science through articles on the professional lives of scientists. All periods of science from classical antiquity to modern times are represented.
    Coverage Dates: - 2008
  • Current Research Information Service (CRIS)  Icon
    CRIS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research projects in agriculture, food and nutrition, and forestry.
    Coverage Dates: -
  • Encyclopedia of Bioethics  Icon
    This third edition is a complete revision of the Dartmouth Medal-winning set first published in 1995. Covering a wealth of topics on the ethics of health professions, animal research, population control and the environment, the set helps researchers to consider the impact of new scientific knowledge and its potential to harm or benefit present and future generations
    Coverage Dates: - 2004
  • Encyclopedia of Earth  Icon
    An electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Encyclopedia is a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts who collaborate and review each other's work. The articles are written in non-technical language and will be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public.
    Coverage Dates: - present
  • Encyclopedia of Inland Waters  Icon
    Contains over 240 individual articles covering various broad topics including properties of water hydrologic cycles, surface and groundwater hydrology, hydrologic balance, lakes of the world, rivers of the world, light and heat in aquatic ecosystems, hydrodynamics and mixing in rivers, reservoirs, and lakes, biological integration among inland aquatic ecosystems, pollution and remediation, and conservation and management of inland aquatic ecosystems.
    Coverage Dates: - 2009
  • Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics  Icon
  • Medicine, Bioethics, and Health: Social Issues Primary Sources Collection  Icon
    Explores the development, diversity, and linking of science and ethics as embodied in medical advances, social policy, and law.
    Coverage Dates: - 2006
  • Statistical Abstract  Icon
    A collection of statistics on social and economic conditions in the United States. Selected international data are also included. The Abstract is also a guide to sources of other data from the Census Bureau, other Federal agencies, and private organizations.
    Full-text and data: 2006
    Coverage Dates: - 2006

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