They Say, I Say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing

  • First, review MLA or APA (depending on your discipline) in-text citation guidelines at the OWL at Purdue.  For this assignment, you are going to demonstrate knowledge of how to use in-text citations in an annotated bibliography.  PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU MUST BE ABLE TO CITE CORRECTLY and that you will probably have to study these guidelines in order to understand correct citations.
  • An annotated bibliography is a genre of writing that scholars turn to when they are beginning to learn about a subject.  Its purpose is to provide a synopsis of the written conversations that are happening about a given topic and to provide the bibliographic information on those conversations.  Writing annotated bibliographies is a useful practice for researchers because it enables them to see where texts overlap, how they “speak” to one another, and where there are spaces for a writer to insert his or her own arguments. 
  • Your task in this assignment is to write a very short annotated bibliography with two of your sources.  Ultimately, you will have to use five sources in Writing Project 3, but for today you only need two.  For each source you must:  
    1. Summarize the work.  Remember, to summarize a text you must READ the entire article.  If your source is a book, you should read only those chapters that are relevant for your topic.  Your purpose is to provide an overview of what the work is about.  Your summary should be 2-3 sentences.  Your summary should be labeled as such (a paragraph that begins “Summary:”). 
    2. Within the summary, you should paraphrase a specific portion of the work that seems particularly important (1 or 2 sentences).  Be sure to think carefully about what and why you paraphrase and consider how much you paraphrase.  Underline the paraphrased portion and label it with [P] at the beginning of the sentence(s).
    3. Include a direct quotation that would highlight a particularly important point.  Underline your direct quotation and label it with [Q] at the beginning of the sentence or quote.
    4. Explicitly state: who is the intended audience of the work?  Academic reader, general reader, children, etc.?  This can go anywhere in the annotation.
    5. Comparison:  After the summary paragraph, include another paragraph that compares this source to others you have read.  Does it support the other works’ claims?  How?  Does it differ from other works’ claims?  How?  This paragraph should be labeled “Comparison.”
    Two Examples of Annotated BibliographyBelow are two examples from an annotated bibliography.  (Note that Titanium has messed up the formatting, particularly indentations.  Make sure your assignment is properly formatted).Graff, Gerald. Birkenstein, Cathy. “They Say, I Say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing.  New York: Norton & Company, 2006.Summary: Graff and Birkenstein seek to make academic writing more accessible by providing templates that allow writers to think critically about texts.  [P] While the authors acknowledge that the templates seem formulaic, perhaps something like the cousin of the five paragraph essay, they argue that their approach is actually an antidote to formulaic writing because it helps writers think critically and creatively about topics. Moreover, they believe their method is inherently democratic and argue, [Q] “This approach to writing therefore has an ethical dimension, since it asks writers not simply to keep proving and reasserting what they already believe but to stretch what they believe by putting it up against beliefs that differ, sometimes radically, from their own” (xxvi).            Comparison:  Written for a general audience, this book is not marred by jargon and is easily accessible.  Like LaMott’s book, this book functions as a how-to for writing.  However, unlike LaMott’s book, the authors present a philosophical discussion of academic writing that helps them assert that this type of writing is highly significant. LaMott, Anne. Bird by Bird. New York: Random House, 1994.Summary: Using a funny and down-to-earth voice, Lamott offers advice on how to be a writer.  She organizes her book into five sections: writing, the writing frame of mind, help along the way, publication and other reasons to write, and the last class.   Each section consists of short chapters that deal with various aspects or issues surrounding writing such as getting started, drafting, and revising.  [P] LaMott’s work provides a discussion of the internal struggle that often occurs when writing and describes the struggle as something akin to having “voices” in your mind that try to distract you (7).  Her book is by no means a “research” report on writing, and her claims are not factual.  However, she does present some very real issues surrounding writing in an eloquent and engaging way; her book is aimed at the general reader and indeed was a NYTimes best seller).  [Q] She states, “Writing can give you what having a baby can give you; it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up” (7).Comparison:  Unlike Graff and Birkenstein, LaMott does not discuss secondary sources.  Her more general aim is a personal appreciation of writing, not a philosophical consideration of the topic.  
    Checklist: items to include in your annotated bibliography in checklist for_____________1. Citation is correct_____________2. Is your summary clear and concise?  Your reader should have a sense of what the piece is about, and that there is enough specific information included to give the reader an idea about how this piece contributes to the body of knowledge surrounding the topic._____________3. Have you introduced quotes properly?_____________4. Are your in-text citations correct?  Make sure you’ve used a direct quote and underlined it.  Make sure you’ve paraphrased a specific portion of the text and highlighted and marked it._____________5Did you include a statement about how this text relates to the other texts?  Did you make specific comparisons, rather than vague generalities, and have you demonstrated knowledge of the content of the source?______________6. Have you commented on intended audience?______________7. Is your tone and word choice appropriate for an academic audience?
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