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Assignment | Social Impact Annotated Bibliography (Pentecost): Getting Started

ENGL 1301 | Prof. R. Pentecost (Summer 2021)


Your Goals:
  • 5 total sources:
  • MLA format
  • Thoughtful annotation justifying each of your sources
  • 300-word topic introduction synthesizing your research-informed learnings

Topic, Research Question, Thesis

First, you develop and narrow down your topic -- the general idea of what you're going to be researching. From that, you need to develop your research question, i.e. what is the question you are attempting to answer by doing your research? This, in turn, will form the basis for your paper's thesis (your claim/argument/answer) which you'll explicitly state in your introduction.

From your central topic, you develop your research question(s) to investigate, and then finally develop a thesis statement which answers your chosen question.

Develop Your Thesis

Your thesis is where you put forward your argument in a concise, declarative way. It is typically one sentence long and comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. You should only develop your thesis after you've started doing your research. You can have a thesis in mind as you start your research, of course, but be prepared to change it if you find it's unsupportable with the information available to you.

Thesis statements should be:

  • Specific - lay out exactly the arguments/reasons you're using in your thesis
  • Contestable - if you can find a definitive yes/no answer within a few minutes of Google searching, it's not arguable enough
  • Narrow - not about all of privacy ever, but this little sliver of a privacy issue in this particular time and society
  • Provable - or at least something you can persuasively argue.

Your thesis statement should essentially give your reader a preview of what arguments you'll be presenting over the course of your paper.

Starter Research


Background information or overviews or fast facts -- you want to look up something, be able to quickly learn what the heck it is, and then move on. These types of sources are relatively short and while they may cover a lot of ground about a topic, they stick to basic who/what/when/where facts, not deep analysis.


Don't cite these reference sources -- use them while you're figuring out your topic keywords.

Credible (But Non-Scholarly) Sources:

The easy, accessible, affordable sources of information that are good but not quite as rigorous as academic works. News stories and magazines are a couple typical examples, but regular websites can fit in here, too.

What about books?:

Books, like websites actually, exist on a spectrum: some are popular, some are scholarly. They get a little bit of a credibility edge by having to pass through a publisher, at least! They also exist on a spectrum of depth, with some providing nice introductions to topics (like your class textbooks) while others offer a deep dive into a very focused subject.

Quick Take

What part of research do you find the most difficult?
Picking a topic: 3 votes (9.38%)
Narrowing my topic down: 2 votes (6.25%)
Forming a research question: 3 votes (9.38%)
Finding sources: 3 votes (9.38%)
Picking out good sources: 9 votes (28.13%)
Organizing my information: 5 votes (15.63%)
Writing citations: 2 votes (6.25%)
Writing my paper: 5 votes (15.63%)
Total Votes: 32

Research Process

Research process steps: 1, pick a general direction. 2, do some broad background research. 3, Select a specific topic and start your deeper research. 4, Let your research results guide your thesis and talking points. 5, Assemble your argumetn and evidence into a logical order. 6, Write, re-write, edit, and revise.

Managing Your Research

Your process to capture sources and citations will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools:


OneDrive - 1 TB free storage for Lone Star College students.


Evernote - The basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.


Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.


ZoteroBib is a free citation tool that supports MLA, APA, CMOS, and thousands of others. Use this instead of the full Zotero if you just need some quick citations.

Related Guides

Citations: MLA Style (8th ed.)

A guide to writing and citing in MLA format.


LSC-University Park students have access to a premium Grammarly subscription for free! Grammarly is a writing-enhancement platform to assist you in improving your grammar and writing abilities.

Current Issues

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Journals & Periodicals: Identifying Scholarly Sources

Learn how to distinguish between the 3 major categories of information sources: scholarly, popular, and trade.