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Lexicon Bibliographical Essay

Last week’s blog post, “What’s the Point?”,  hopefully convinced you in some small way of the significance of academic writing. Now it’s time to focus on the most important elements of the academic essay. I’ve already covered a few of these in previous posts, particularly the thesis statement and motive. But of course, there are so many more! What terms are crucial to the genre of academic writing? What do you need to know to write a convincing, elegant academic essay?

Let’s look at A Writing Lexicon, a list of the essential essay elements, to find out.

Thesis

Check out my past posting on The Thesis Statement. But for a quick reminder, the thesis statement is the crux of your essay. It is the paper’s central claim or argument that, nonetheless, can be reasonably argued against. Your thesis is the backbone of your essay and should be traceable throughout the entire piece.

Motive

Once again, scan over my blog on Motive. In a nutshell, your paper’s motive should drive your thesis. It is the puzzle, problem, limitation, disagreement, etc. discovered in data or literature, out of which you may craft an argument. It is often introduced by the word “But.”

Structure

Generally speaking, an essay’s structure is its line of reasoning or argument. Structure is conceived of on a large scale (beginning to end) as well as within individual paragraphs. Structure is much like “organization,” a concept you have most likely heard of in your high school English courses. A successful structure is coherent and clear, and constructed around your thesis. A basic structure generally follows the five-paragraph format—introduction, three body paragraphs, conclusion—but academic essays like those you will be expected to write in college should challenge and expand this basic structure.

Key Words/Terms

These are your essay’s main concepts or terms. For this blog post, for example, my key terms would be “academic writing,” “writing lexicon,” and all of these elements I am currently discussing. Key terms should be defined early on in your essay in order to orient your reader (and yourself!), particularly if they are crucial to your line of reasoning.

Sources

These are the materials used to assist your argument. These include basic information, facts, ideas, and artifacts. There are two main types of sources, primary and secondary. Primary sources are original documents, artifacts, or data that are uninterpreted and function as evidence. Examples of primary sources include diary entries, novels, plays, letters, original manuscripts, films, paintings, documents, and field data. Secondary sources are texts that are written about a specific topic or primary source; these make direct claims about this topic. These often include essays or articles written by professors and scholars about a specific subject, particularly within literature.

If you are writing an essay on John Keats’ poetry, your primary sources would be the poems themselves; your secondary sources would be articles or essays written by scholars about such poetry.

Analysis

This is the interpretation of your sources. In academic essays concerning literature, such analysis will be central to your main claim, particularly because often you will be asked to “analyze” a certain passage or poem. Analysis should ground your thesis within each paragraph. But it can also take the form of engaging with secondary sources. Often a strong thesis comes from taking another scholar’s argument and modifying it or weaving it into your essay’s main point.

Citations

You have probably heard the word “bibliography” already; most likely you will have made citations in research papers in high school. A bibliography is a list of the sources you have used in writing your essay. We’ll talk more about different methods of citation in future posts–such as MLA, Chicago, and APA–but for now, know that sources are always cited within the essay. This is to orient your reader, but most importantly to give credit to other authors’ ideas.

For more of these lexical terms in detail, check out Princeton University’s “A Writing Lexicon” as well as Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay.” Stay tuned for more in-depth descriptions of these essay elements in future weeks.

Additional Reading:

Check out the next posts in this 8 part series on writing academically:

Check out my previous post:

About the author: Kathleen McGunagle is a senior in Princeton University’s English department and Interdisciplinary Humanities Certificate Program. Concentrating in British Renaissance Literature, she will be writing a thesis this spring on Shakespeare and epistolary culture. Kathleen is an Academic Peer Adviser at Princeton, tutor through Princeton Tutoring, and avid performer. She has recently returned from a year of study at Worcester College, Oxford.

 

This entry was posted in Writing and tagged academic essay, essay tips, essays, writing on by Kathleen McGunagle.

Bibliographies are used to cite sources that are used in a research paper.  An annotatedbibliography is more than a mere list of sources. It includes:

  • A summary - includes information that explains what information the source provides
  • An evaluation - explains why or how the notation is a useful source. It can also speak to the validity of the source in terms of its scholarly nature
  • An explanation of value - speaks to the relevance of the citation to the research paper

Some annotated bibliographies offer only summaries, while others offer all three components. It is important to assess what the audience of the research paper will be seeking before crafting an annotated bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography Format Styles

Summary Format Styles

The basic format of an annotated bibliography is the same as a non-annotated bibliography entry. The difference is that the publication information about the source material is followed with the annotation that reviews and evaluates the material.

Here are the two basic format styles:

APA (American Psychological Association) Style

StyleBaker, T. (1995). Gun control and You.  Stevenson Learning Law Review, 45 (2), 180-193. The author researches several federal and state firearms regulations and their effect on the everyday citizen. By testing his hypothesis that firearms regulations have an inherent effect on everyday citizens, findings yield in support of the hypothesis. In contrast, Baker cited in an earlier study the complete opposite findings. 

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

StyleJohnson, Jaime. "Gun Control: Your Only Means of Defense.” Researcher's Special Journal  (1999): 254-325. Print. The author researches several federal and state firearms regulations and their effect on the everyday citizen. By testing his hypothesis that firearms regulations have an inherent effect on everyday citizens, findings yield in support of the hypothesis. In contrast, Baker cited in an earlier study the complete opposite.

Full 3-Component Format Style

Crohn’s and Colitis - An Annotated Bibliography

Crohn’s and Colitis Drug Effective in Trials. (2013). Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265128.php 

Published on the website Medical News Today, this article discusses the research findings of two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Vedoluzimab is a drug being tested to help Crohn’s and Colitis patients deal with the debilitating effects of these diseases. The article briefly outlines the research suggesting effectiveness of the drug. 

 

MediLexicon International, the publisher of the article, is a U.K. based health care internet publishing company that is dedicated to providing top notch unbiased content. Publishing since 2003, this reputable company’s articles are reliable for use for research support. 

Glover, Sonia B. Coping With Crohn’s, The Pain and The Laughter. Newfoundland and Labrador: Boulder Publications. 2007. Print

 

This insightful account of one woman’s struggles with her symptoms and diagnosis of Crohn’s provides valuable personal information for those struggling with Crohn’s. 

 

Published by Boulder Publications, a self-proclaimed “publisher of high quality books,” this book is a useful tool to understand Crohn’s disease. It is a reliable resource for anecdotal information about Crohn’s disease. 

 

Linking Vitamin D Deficiency to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. (2013). Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Journal. Retrieved from: http://journals.lww.com/ibdjournal/Fulltext/2013/09000/Linking_Vitamin_D_Deficiency_to_Inflammatory_Bowel.26.aspx

 

A comprehensive scholarly article about the links between Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, this piece offers scientific information about how Vitamin D works within the body, and information from a wide variety of doctors and researchers that supports a link between the vitamin and IBD disorders. 

 

Scientific and evidence based, this journal article from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundations of America’s journal is a highly useful resource to support the topic of this paper. 

 

No Reservations - How to Take the Worry Out of Eating Out. (2013). CCFA: Take Charge Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/diningout.pdf

 

An insightful article, this piece gives information to those suffering with Crohn’s and Colitis to help to ease the anxiety and stress of eating outside of the home. 

 

Including information that is research based, and published by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, this resource is highly reliable and gives a useful context for the information within this research paper. 

Creating an Annotated Bibliography

Some tips for creating a well-annotated bibliography include:

  • Consider which writing style is required of your research. One of the things to keep in mind about APA and MLA format is that there is a distinguishing difference. For example, MLA format is usually double spaced within the citation and between each citation.
  • Use the third person when writing. 
  • Make a list of the points which the author emphasized as relative to the topic that you were researching.
  • Make sure that the sources which you used are aligned or in agreement with your stance on the research issue. This will helps to make a stronger argument for your stance on the issue that you researched.

In summary, the key to writing a complete and properly formatted annotated bibiography is to review your source material, take detailed notes, select the format to be used for the annotations. Summarize the content, providing information that describes and evaluates the source material.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Examples of Annotated Bibliography

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Bibliographies are used to cite sources that are used in a research paper.  An annotated bibliography is more than a mere list of sources. It includes:A summary - includes information that explains what information the source providesAn evaluation - explains why or how the notation is a useful source. It can also speak to the validity of the source in terms of its scholarly natureAn explanation of value - speaks to the relevance of the citation to the research paperSome annotated bibliographies offer only summaries, while others offer all three components. It is important to assess what the audience of the research paper will be seeking before crafting an annotated bibliography.

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