Annotated Bibliographies

An absolutely gross assignment that goes along with research papers in a lot of classrooms. Annotated bibliographies are meant to make sure that the student is reading the sources they will be using and check for understanding of that reading. And yes, they work to that end. As I worked on one for a class recently I did read all of my sources, multiple times in fact, but I dreaded actually writing a bibliography using these sources. It’s not that I had chosen poor sources, I actually found some really good sources to use for my paper but I just didn’t look forward to having to write the annotations for each of them.

I know. I’m an English major. I should be good at this kind of stuff. Or at least that’s what people seem to think. But I still struggle with writing of all sorts on a daily basis. It’s not like I’m terrible at writing but as soon as I start to evaluate something for turning in for an assignment I begin to believe it’s horrible. Without fail I always think the work I’m doing isn’t any good and yet my teachers keep giving me good grades, or at least passing in some cases when my writing really isn’t all that good.

As I was working on this annotated bibliography I had the constant feeling of dread that everything I was writing was completely wrong. And on reviewing some of it before turning it in there were a few sources that just didn’t live up to the requirements of an annotated bibliography. Of course I changed those to make them better but that made me worry about all the others. I spent several hours pouring over each and every word I had written trying to decide if it was any good or if I should just throw the whole thing out. And that wasn’t really an option because I had done so much work to get this close to being done and I was not about to redo it all. I did revise quite a few of the entries several times though.

I may understand the use of writing up these annotations for each of my sources but it was still something that I dreaded doing. I mean, who am I to make judgments about the contents of these articles written by people with so much more experience than me. I’m just a students. Most of my authors were professors, with more degrees and life experience than I have. What right do I have to decide if their work is any good or not? True answer, none. But I wasn’t doing that I was only decided if their work was good for my purpose or not. And yet, I still felt very much like I was judging their work as I worked on this assignment.


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