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Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Need to write an annotated bibliography for class, but don't know where to start or what to do? This guide will help you find resources and format your bibliography.

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Brainstorming Keywords

To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.

How do migrant workers affect agricultural economies in America?

In the research question above, the most important keywords are: "migrant workers," "America, “agricultural economies." 

You could start searching the library's databases with just these keywords, but you may need to expand your search by brainstorming related words for each keyword. These could be: 

  • Narrow words
  • Broader words
  • Ideas that are related to your topic 
  • Synonyms (words that mean the same thing)

Take a look at the table below to see what other words we could use for 2 of our keywords. 

Keyword 1: Migrant workers

Keyword 2: America

Broader: Undocumented

Synonym: USA, United States

Broader: Immigration

Broader: North America

Synonym: Day laborer

Narrower: California

As you search for sources using the keywords, you will identify new keywords from abstracts, subject terms, and titles. You can revise your searches with new keywords and continue the process until you find relevant sources. 


When using a database, use "OR" to include our broader terms. When we search using OR it brings all relevant sources into our search results. When we use "AND", it allows us to pull sources that include both keywords, which can help us focus our search results on our thesis topic.



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