Thesis statement (1-2 paragraphs) and annotated bibliography

  • In this paper, I will analyze xyz. I will approach this topic with the following questions in mind: …

Refining a Topic:

  • Consider your personal interests
  • Browse encyclopedias or dictionaries, review class readings.
  • Think about significant terms, concepts, and keywords that describe your topic. These terms will become the key for searching for information about your subject in library catalogs, online databases, and other resources.
  • Browse the shelves for books on your subject (see call number guide or talk to a librarian to know where to look).

If your topic seems too broad, consider questions like:

  • What do you already know about the subject?
  • Is there a specific time period or issue you would like to cover?
  • Is there a geographic region on which you would like to focus?
  • Is there a particular aspect of this topic that interests you? For example, historical influence, sociological aspects, specific groups or individuals involved in the topic.

If your topic is so specific that you can’t find sources that specifically address it, consider questions like:

  • Could you think more broadly about this topic? Give thought to the wider implications of your research.
  • Who are the key players or what are the key issues?


Annotated bibliography

  • Check out, an online database for articles of Jewish Studies.
  • You should use a minimum of 5 peer-reviewed articles or three books.
  • Any book, book chapter, article, essay, etc., or primary source qualifies BUT
    • 4 must originate from outside of our class
    • Only 2 references can be from online sources that are not peer-reviewed, that is, assessed by qualified researchers.   That means: no blogposts, no The State articles, Wikipedia, or articles from missionary sites.They cannot include an encyclopedia entry, Wikipedia, or our textbook (though any of these can be critically used in the pre-research stage).
    • If you use non peer-reviewed online material, you must evaluate each site according to the guide lines given below.
    • Articles should not be older than 10 years, books not more than 20. (You wouldn’t go to a physician who used a handbook written in 1920, would you?)
  • Quote according to MLA or Chicago.


How to use web resources

If you decide to use an online source, you will have to include the following in the bibliography

  1. The website address
  2. One-line description of the website
  3. One-line description of the website’s target audience
  4. One-paragraph description of the contents of the website
  5. Your recommendations of who might benefit from the website
  6. The owner of the website
  7. Your name and the date you accessed the page

The information for each item should follow these guidelines:

  • The website address. The website address should be recorded in any of the accepted style manual citation formats (MLA, Chicago, etc.).  It does not matter which one you choose.  What does matter is that you choose one and use it consistently throughout the journal.
  • One-line description of the website. The description of the website should include the general topic as well as the form in which the information is presented (Is the information presented in the form of an academic journal?  Is it a newsletter?  Is it a collection of texts from various sources?).
  • One-line description of the website’s target audience. Different websites will be more accessible to some groups of people than to others.  A website containing technical language may attract an audience that is more specialized than one containing little or no technical language.  You may want to ask questions such as: What level of education would someone need to benefit from this website? Does the website require that people obtain a membership name and password?  If so, what criteria are used to determine whether or not someone may obtain access to the website’s contents?
  • One-paragraph description of the contents of the website. You should explain not only the general topic(s) covered in the website, but also the extent to which the website engages the topic(s).  Does the site offer introductory information on a wide variety of topics, or does it offer in-depth treatment of one narrowly focused topic?
  • Your recommendations of who might benefit from the website. Taking many factors under consideration (owner, target audience, content, form, etc.), decide who would benefit from visiting the website.
  • The owner of the website. Evaluating an online resource should include finding out who owns the website.  This will help you determine what sort of information the website offers, as well as the motivation behind the existence of the website (business, evangelization, etc.).


The paper itself:

Your paper must be typed and double-spaced, and use a format of your choice (APA, MLA, Chicago etc.).  You must spell-check, include a bibliography, and refer to your sources in footnotes or endnotes.

Your paper has to be turned in on time for full credit (if you turn in your paper a day later, an A will become a B+, a B will be turned into a B-, etc.).  Your grade for the class will be at risk if you hand in late assignments, or an un-typed or undeveloped paper.

Any case of plagiarism will be reported to the Dean and Academic Integrity Committee, and will result in a zero on the assignment, possible failure of the course, and suspension or expulsion from the university. It is essential that you give full credit to ALL your sources, including anonymous web sources, whether you directly quote, loosely paraphrase, or are even more generally inspired or shaped by an idea or statement made by someone else.

For assistance

  Note: For those of you who are taking this course “Pass/Fail,” the minimum grade required for a Pass is D+.


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