Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography

Summary: Consider how you will use your potential sources to address your research question.


  • Carefully examine each of your potential sources.
  • Plan how you will use ideas and evidence from the sources in your paper.
  • Develop a tentative structure for your paper.

Due: 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 18


Although the assignment for the prospectus is given before the assignment for the annotated bibliography, you may wish to do them in the opposite order, or work on both side-by-side. Implicit in this: You will need to read (or at least browse or skim) all your sources.

Part A: Prospectus

Draft an introductory paragraph for your paper. This introductory paragraph should include your thesis, which is likely but not required to be an answer to your research question.

Below the introductory paragraph, write a topic sentence for each supporting paragraph. Please write these sentences in a numbered list. Your papers will be around 7-10 pages, so I would expect to see at least 7 topic sentences after the draft introduction. 

These sentences should give your argument in capsule form. Be sure to write complete sentences, with at least a subject and a verb, so that I can understand your point.

You will not be required to use these exact sentences in your final paper---you can revise and reorganize as you see fit. I am just trying to get you thinking about how the pieces of your paper will fit together and hopefully make it easier for you to start writing.

You may want to discuss your prospectus with your study team during week 8. Explain your argument to members of your study team, and see how they respond. Just trying to explain your ideas out loud can help you to understand them better.

Part B: Annotated Bibliography

For each of your sources, you should have already written a short paragraph addressing the following points:
  • how you found the source (Google, library catalog, Academic Search Premier, reference from another source, etc.);
  • why

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    you believe it to be credible;

  • why you think it might help you address your research question.
As you browse/skim/read your sources, please add an additional one or two paragraphs


addressing the following:
  • Describe the content of the source, if you have not already done so.
  • Explain how you plan to use ideas or evidence from the source in your paper. Or, if you decided not to use the source after all, explain why.

You may add sources that were not in your previous bibliography. (In fact, I may have encouraged you to do so.) If you do, be sure to annotate the new reference with your evaluation of the source's credibility, as well as how you plan to use it.

Finally, add at least once source from the official class readings that will help to support your argument. You need not give a full annotation - just explain how you plan to use the source.

If you realize that your argument requires a piece of information you don't have, make a note of this as well. You should try to find it out ASAP!

What to turn in

Type a document including the following two components.
  1. Your prospectus from part A.
  2. Your bibliography from part B, in a recognized citation style, with the required annotations addressing the credibility, the content, and your planned use of the source. Be sure to include at least one source from the official class readings.

Format as for an essay. Be sure to put your name and a title on the assignment and to acknowledge any help you received.

Turn in your document via PWeb by 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 18.


I will evaluate your assignment on 

  • the appropriateness of your thesis;
  • the clarity and apparent amount of effort put into your prospectus;
  • whether you have identified an appropriate variety and quality of sources to help you address your question;
  • whether you have given a correct list of references for those sources and annotated them as required.

Janet Davis (

Created March 12, 2009
Last revised January 19, 2011

Category: Annotated bibliography

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