Annotated Bibliography

A list of sources (books, database articles, web pages), put together to research a topic, which includes a summary or evaluation of each of the sources.


A brief summary or evaluation of each source. In writing the annotation, we want to answer the following questions:


A list of information sources chosen for research. While we usually think of books (because of the “biblio” part), this list may also include academic journal articles and websites.


A quotation from or a reference to a book or source, usually found at the end of articles in the form of bibliographies, works cited pages, and references pages, built in a specific style (MLA, APA, etc.).

Citation Generator

An application that takes a website’s URL and generates a citation we can use for our bibliography. These include citation machine, scribbr, easybib, and


A place where data and information is stored in tables. For our purposes, we will use bibliographic databases: places in the library storing academic journal articles and other publications.


An alphabetical list of terms with definitions and explanations, like this one.


Word or concept of great significance, which we can use to plug into library catalog or database searches.

There are several places where we can find keywords. We will start by finding keywords within our research question. For example, suppose we are doing research for our history class project, and our research question is:

What did the economy , commerce and trade look like in pre-colonial Aztec civilization?

Within this question, our keywords will be the most important, meaningful, or information-rich words within the question:

We can use these initial keywords to plug into searches and find encyclopedia articles. We can then get more information, keywords, and key concepts from the article. Let's take a look at this encyclopedia article:

Aztecs: Economy
Agriculture and subsistence
As all Mesoamerican peoples, Aztec society was organized around maize agriculture. The humid environment in the Valley of Mexico with its many lakes and swamps permitted intensive agriculture. The main crops in addition to maize were beans, squashes, chilies and amaranth. Particularly important for agricultural production in the valley was the construction of chinampas on the lake, artificial islands that allowed the conversion of the shallow waters into highly fertile gardens that could be cultivated year round.[...].
The Aztecs further intensified agricultural production by constructing systems of artificial irrigation.
Trade and distribution
Products were distributed through a network of markets; some markets specialized in a single commodity (for example the dog market of Acolman) and other general markets with presence of many different goods. Markets were highly organized with a system of supervisors taking care that only authorized merchants were permitted to sell their goods, and punishing those who cheated their customers or sold substandard or counterfeit goods[...].
The pochteca were specialized long-distance merchants organized into exclusive guilds[...].
Another form of distribution of goods was through the payment of taxes. When an altepetl was conquered, the victor imposed a yearly tax, usually paid in the form of whichever local product was most valuable or treasured[...]. Sauce: wikipedia.

Encyclopedia articles will give us more information about our research question, and even more keywords, shown in bold, that we can use to research further.

Library Catalog

A list of (mostly) books in a library collection. A library catalog is in itself a database.

Research Question

The question we seek to answer by doing research. The answer to our research question will become the main idea of our final project.

Our research question has to meet three minimum requirements:

Relevant: The question we want to answer has to have something to do with the class's subject.

The right scope: if our question is too broad, such as “what's with the Middle Ages?”, you will have way too much information to cram into a small project. If, on the other hand, your question is too specific, like “what kind of society the Sentinelese of the Adaman Islands have?” you will probably find very little information, not enough even for a term paper.

Interesting: the question we want to answer with our research project has to be interesting, at least to us. Boring subjects result in mediocre papers.


A department or branch of knowledge.


A matter dealt with in a text, discourse, or conversation. Sometimes topic and subject are used interchangeably, others use topic as a subset of subject.


Uniform Resource Locator. The address of a web page, like