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Collaborative Annotated Bibliography with a PBWorks Wiki

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Students worked together to create a collaborative annotated bibliography
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Screen shot of collaborative annotated bibliography in PBWorks

Brief Assignment Overview: 

Students worked together to create a collaborative annotated bibliography on PBWorks that covered a range of literary scholarship relating to the novels and poems on the course syllabus. Each student signed up for a day to give a research presentation; on their assigned day they found a scholarly source, wrote an annotated bibliography entry on the PBWorks site, and presented it to the class. By the end of the semester, students had created an annotated bibliography that could serve as a resource for the whole class as they began writing their final research papers.

Type of Assignment: 
Assignment Length: 
Pedagogical Goals - Digital Literacy: 
Additional Pedagogical Goals: 

This assignment exposed students to different approaches to literary scholarship and research techniques. Sudents developed familiarity with library search engines, peer-reviewed journals, and academic conventions in the study of English Literature. They also learned to write annotations, cite sources using MLA citation style, and present their research to their classmates. By incorporating an ongoing research assignment into the course, I was able to maintain a conversation about research and scholarship throughout the semester. It also served to make research more collaborative, as students could draw upon the summaries that their peers had provided, and use the bibliography as a resource to identify relevant scholarship and to further pursue the conversations that they found interesting.

Required Materials: 

Students will need to sign up for accounts on PBWorks in preparation for the assignment. Instructors must create a single wiki page entry titled "Annotated Bibliography" on which students will add their entries. Any other materials are optional; for instance, several students gave research presentations using powerpoint, for which I needed a media console in the classroom. However, it would be possible to limit students to oral presentations.

Timeline for Optimal Use: 
Full Assignment Description: 

Each student in the class will sign up for a day to make a research presentation. On your assigned day, you are responsible for 1) finding a scholarly source that is relevant to the text we are discussing on that day, 2) creating an annotated bibliography entry on the class wiki, and 3) making a short (5-7 minute) presentation to the class explaining the relevance of your research.

Suggestions for Instructor Preparation: 

Instructors must expect this assignment to take a great deal of class time throughout the semester, both in terms of preparing students for the assignment and in allocating 5-7 minutes for each student to present their research throughout the semester. However, once it gets going, the research presentations should enhance class discussion as well as better-preparing students for research in literary studies. I would advise allowing several minutes of question and answer following the presentations to give students the chance to respond and discuss.

Instructions For Students: 

Finding Sources

Scholarly sources, such as articles in academic journals and books, are written by experts for other researchers like you. They are rarely found for free through search engines like Google, but rather are subscribed to by libraries and are available in library databases. For more information about distinguishing between popular and scholarly sources, see <>

1) Finding academic books: Visit the UT Library Catalog.

2) Finding scholarly articles in academic databases: Go to “Find Articles Using Databases” on the UT Library Website. From this page you can look up databases by subject or alphabetically, by the name of the database. Once you find a database, you can search for scholarly articles referenced in that database. The following databases are particularly helpful for our course:

MLA International Bibliography                                    

LION (Literature Online)                                              



Project Muse                                                                    

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography includes all the usual bibliographic information, as well as 1-3 sentences that summarize the text. This short summary appears after the bibliographic information and is written in incredibly precise prose (think resume-speak). One challenge for this kind of writing is to choose powerful verbs that show what the source does not just what itsays.

Examples from The Art of Literary Research:

Rampersad, Arnold. “Too Honest for His Own Time.” New York Times Book Review, December 29, 1991: 3, 17-18.

Reviews the history of the censorship that publishers and book clubs applied to the books that made Richard Wright famous, to explain why the Library of America volumes devoted to his major works represent them, for the first time, “as he had wanted them to be read.”

Laird, J.T. The Shaping of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

Documents, from the manuscript and the various printed editions, the extensive revisions of the novel over nearly a quarter-century. Disposes of many half-truths and outright errors, most of which resulted from Hardy’s own misleading statements.

Maddox, Brenda. Nora: A Biography of Nora Joyce. London: Hamilton, 1988.

            The appendix describes the migration of “the largest collection of Joyce material in private hands, the richest source of material on the life of Joyce until 1920” from Trieste to Cornell, and the controversy aroused by the publication of some of the obscene letters included in the purchase.

Posting to the Wiki

Go to the course wiki page on PBworks: On the sidebar find the link to “Annotated Bibliography.” Log in with your username and password and you will be able to add your entry directly to the document. Do not alter or erase any other entries—just add your own. Put your name at the end in parentheses. 

Making a Presentation

Give an extemporaneous presentation (not read verbatim from a piece of paper, but presented in an engaging manner). You are welcome to use powerpoint or any other visuals that would be helpful. The presentation will need to be more detailed than your wiki posting. Describe how you found this article and what you think it contributes to our understanding of the text. Explain the author’s argument and what kind of evidence he or she uses to support this argument. You are welcome to editorialize—to give your own assessment of the article’s strengths and weaknesses, but this should not be the main focus of the presentation. 

Evaluation Suggestions: 

Minimum Requirements


For a C or above, source must:

Þ      Be from a scholarly publication

Þ      Clearly illuminate the text we are discussing (cannot come out of left field)

For a C or above, presentation must:

Þ      Be at least 5 minutes long

Þ      Clearly summarize the author’s argument

Þ      Give detailed descriptions of the author’s use of evidence

Þ      Be delivered clearly and extemporaneously

For a C or above, wiki posting must:

Þ      Be in correct MLA citation style

Þ      Use strong verbs

Þ      Be written effectively and coherently, with no punctuation or grammatical errors

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