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UNIV1120: How to be exceptional: Annotated Bib

This guide should answer most questions about assignments for UNIV 1120: Documentary Film and Online Literacy.


You'll need five different sources should be from at least three different types of content. For example, different types are:

  • Websites (organizations, blogs)
  • Videos and Film
  • Books
  • Magazine or Journal Articles
  • Podcasts, Radio


Your annotation should briefly (in about 1-2 paragraphs) describe the source and how it is useful to your project in your own words. Your annotation should include:

  • 2-3 sentences brief summary
  • 1-3 sentences about the authority/reliability -- why this particular item better than other similar ones?
  • 1-2 sentences about the relevance to your project

See samples of how you would write these sections below.


When you summarize a work of fiction, or a non-fiction work that is narrative (like a biography), you describe what happens -- that's the plot. In non-fiction works that you will use as sources, it's often easier to summarize the work's purpose.

  • What are the authors trying to do? Do they succeed?
  • Who is the audience? Who would be interested in this information?
  • How does it achieve the purpose? What does the website show? What does the book tell?

You don't necessarily have to answer every single question. If you can describe the book's purpose, and how it is achieved, you've made a summary.

Here are some sample one- to two-sentence summaries of non-fiction works. Remember, when you create your Annotated Bib, you'll need to have a full citation, not just the title as in the example:

Thumbs, Toes and Tears: And Other Traits that Make Us Human

The author identifies six physical traits that humans have, and tries to show how these traits benefit people evolutionarily and emotionally. Those interested in science topics will gain that information, but may also be moved by the sense of interconnectedness between humans and the rest of the natural world that the author conveys.

Doing Honest Work in College: How to prepare citations, avoid plagiarism, and achieve academic sucess.

This book is more than a citation style manual. The author provides advice to help college students undertand what instructors want from students, and how to work in a way that makes academic honesty easier to achieve.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

The advice that Ms. Lamott gives is told in short narratives that are sometimes sad and sometimes funny. They are also pulled from her own life experiences, and provide inspiration to the reader to sit down and write.

Describe Authority

For your documentary, you may not need peer reviewed research. Popular books, blogs, and websites can be credible sources, as long as you are sure they hold up to questioning:

  • Authority: Who is the author? What kind of creditials or experience does s/he have?
  • Currency: Is the source up-to-date or is the information stale and no longer useful?
  • Reliability: What is the content? Is it factual or opinion? Is there proof for the arguments? Are sources given?
  • Objectivity/POV: What is the author's purpose? Is there a bias?

Make an effective case for why a source is authoritative in a sentence. Address anything that might cause a reader to question the authority.

Not effective:

  • The article was published by a reputable source. Who is the author? Why should I believe you?
  • The author makes a good argument. What is the proof for the arguements? Are sources given? How do I know that's true


Thumbs, toes, and tears: And other traits that make us human

While the the author is not a scientist himself, he is journalist who specializes in science reporting, and has worked as a bureau chief for CNN,  and a writer for Scientific American. He is able to take complex ideas and make them understandable to a wide audience.

Doing honest work in college: How to prepare citations, avoid plagiarism, and achieve academic sucess.

The author is a professor and ther director of undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, so he's had experience working with undergraduates, and is knowledgeable about what students need to know to get ahead in college.

Bird by Bird: Some intructions on writing and life

Anne Lamott is a published author, public speaker, and writing teacher, so she has developed techniques from these different perspectives that inspire people, and help them in their writing.

Describe Relevance

You should be able to describe how an information source is going to be useful for your documentary. Just as you will have a mix of different kinds of sources, you will have a mix of uses. Here a few examples of uses that make a source relevant:

  • Background: The source provides an overview of the topic so you are knowledgeable when you interview your subjects.
  • Data visualization: The source helps make data or facts clear to the viewer. This could be something static, such as a chart. This could be a video segment, such as showing movement across a map.
  • Quotation: An item doesn't have to be text for you to quote it. This can be any source that provides content that you will be quoting, paraphrasing or remixing.

Here are some examples of describing how a source is used:

My documentary will focus on things that make people cry, and the scientific information on the purposes of tears will be be a good background. I may use some quotes.

My documentary will be about academic honesty in college, and having advice on how to avoid dishonesty would make a good conclusion.

My documentary will focus on several UGA students who want to be writers, and I think having a few Anne Lamott quotes, on black background slides, would make good transitions between interview segments.

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