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Critical Reading: An Essential Step

Critical Reading: A Great Way to Start a Research Project

Rather than hitting the databases and collecting a bunch of articles that may or not be related, start your search by finding a single, very relevant article. Practice critical reading habits and then follow the steps below to collect information you will use in your annotated bibliography for the PowerPoint Project.

Critical Reading: Requires attention, requires practice:
  • Read with a purpose and read with focus.
  • Connect what you're reading with what you already know or what you are learning in this class.
  • Read to reflect.
  • Ask yourself throughout: "How will I use this information to build on the information?"
  • Recognize your place in the scholarly conversation: What is the relationship between you and the scholars who produced what you are reading?
While reading, ask the following:
  • What is this about and why was it written?
  • Who wrote it? (Evaluate authority)
  • How did they conduct their research?
  • So what? Why do I care?
  • How does this information connect with other literature I have encountered? How does it connect to me, my life, my future professional life?
Get started:
  • Use the databases listed in the box to perform an online keyword search strategy considering your approved topic. (*Review the Information Literacy Modules if needed)
  • Perform your search and spend time carefully reviewing your results.  After considering the titles and reading the abstracts, select ONE article that you feel is the best result from the list.  (Or change your search strategy until you find a single article that seems like a good match).
  • Skim the full text of the article to confirm that it is a good starting point for your topic.
  • Print out the full text of the article.  (The whole thing, including the references)
  • Read the entire article once, asking yourself the questions above.
  • Read the article again, and annotate it.  Use a highlighter or colored pens if you like.  Write down or highlight things like the following:
    • Questions that come up in your mind as you read
    • Keywords and subject headings that are addressed in the article
    • Vocabulary: look up unfamiliar terms and write their definitions in the margins
    • Gaps in the research: What's missing that you would find helpful to your understanding of the topic?
    • Problems you see with the research as presented
    • Ideas for follow-up
    • Practical ideas you like
  • Craft a new online keyword search strategy incorporating what you learned from this article.
  • Review the references to locate related articles that might help fill gaps, answer questions, further develop the topic for you.
  • Finally, perform a new search strategy to find related articles or relevant cited articles to include in your annotated bibliography.
  • Repeat these steps with your remaining retrieved articles.

Write you annotations for your annotated bibliography:

  • Wait until you have read each of the articles critically and made your annotations and notes.
  • Think about how each of your articles relate to each other.
  • Write each annotation with all required details which may include: authority, intended audience, comparison to other articles in your bibliography, and how the article illuminated the topic.

Searching Multiple Ebsco Databases

1) Start out in one of our subscription databases provided by the vendor, Ebsco. 

For example, start out in Academic Search Complete.  Above the search box, located the link for "Choose Databases."

Screenshot from Academic Search Complete pointing to the "choose databases" link

 

2) Select any of the Ebsco databases you would like to search simultaneously.  Then click on "OK"

List of ebsco databases with Academic Search complete and Medline selected from the list.

 

3) Confirm your selected databases by selecting the "Show all" link above the search box:

Screen shot of Academic Search Complete pointing to link for "Show All" to list all databases being searched.

 

4) Review the databases listed and make any changes by selecting the "Choose Databases" link again:

Ebsco search box with four databases listed above: academic search complete, medline, psycinfo, and the psychological and behavioral sciences collection listed

 

Create an Ebsco Account to Manage Your Research

Create an account in EBSCOhost to access your personalized account, which is accessible across your favorite Ebsco databases, including Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Social Work Abstracts, and many more!

  • Save preferences
  • Organize your research with folders
  • Share your folders with others
  • View others' folders
  • Save and retrieve your search history
  • Create email alerts and/or RSS feeds
  • Gain access to your saved research remotely

Start out by accessing an EBSCO database.  In this example we are using Academic Search Complete.  Select the "Sign In" option to begin creating your account:

Either sign in with your established EBSCOhost credentials, or "Create a New Account"

Complete the registration form and "Save Changes:"

Just Ask

Just Ask

Databases to Search

Annotated Bibliographies

Check out our LibGuide: Annotated Bibliographies

Additional Websites on Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies | The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue

Provides definitions about, reasons for, and formats and examples of annotated bibliographies. Written by Dana Bisignani and Allen Brizee from The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue, Purdue University.

Annotated Bibliographies | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This handout will explain why annotated bibliographies are useful for researchers, provide an explanation of what constitutes an annotation, describe various types of annotations and styles for writing them, and offer multiple examples of annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE styles of citation." From The Writing Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Annotated Bibliography | The University of Wisconsin-Madison

This site includes examples of different kinds of annotations including informative, indicative, and evaluative. UW-Madison's "Writer's Handbook" has lots of helpful advice for the entire writing process.

Citing Your Sources

Helpful guides to citation styles:

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