Research Proposal & Annotated Bibliography Choose one of the assigned short stories we have been discussing for the past few weeks. Then, think about your understanding and interpretation of th

Research Proposal & Annotated Bibliography

Choose one of the assigned short stories we have been discussing for the past few weeks.  Then, think about your understanding and interpretation of the short story.  You will be writing a research paper that aims to analyze the short story, but before you do, you will need to complete research to better understand the story and work through your analysis and interpretation.  So, this research proposal and annotated bibliography project is the step before the research paper. 

Steps to begin: 

  1. Decide on one of the assigned short stories (Chopin, Garcia Marquez, or Vonnegut).
  2. Reread the short story and use the questions in the early textbook chapters to deepen your annotations. Use “Close Readings and Literary Analysis” as a guide, especially the link from Harvard.
  3. Learn more about academic research (watch/listen to the assigned PPT and videos on Canvas).
  4. Begin researching.  Find academic sources that focus on the short story that you selected, the writing style of the story’s author, the genre or style (magical realism, dystopia, etc.), literary element (theme, conflict, irony, etc.), etc.
  5. After you inform yourself fully, come to a conclusion about how you interpret the short story.  Narrow your focus (deep well, not shallow pond—have a small focus but go deeply with your analysis).  This “conclusion” becomes your thesis.

The Research Proposal: 

The purpose of a research proposal is to persuade someone, often your professor, that your topic and approach in an upcoming research paper are valid and worthwhile.  Before you write the paper, propose your topic, approach, and initial research on the subject to show that you are on the right track and should continue in this direction.  If the proposal fails to show significant thought and preparation (analysis and initial research), your proposal may not be approved, and you would have to begin again.  The goal is to create a concise, yet thorough proposal that persuades your professor to approve your topic and approach.  This is also your opportunity to receive initial feedback that will assist you in proceeding.  The more focused the better.  Demonstrate you know your topic well by introducing it and providing a framework for your argument, and show that the paper you propose is well-thought-out and would be a worthwhile contribution to an academic discussion on your topic.  Include a preliminary thesis that clearly and explicitly states your specific stance (post-research). 

Length:  No more than ½ page (typically one-two healthy paragraphs). 

Style:  Formal, but you may use limited amounts of 1st person when/if necessary to discuss your approach to the proposed paper. 

The Annotated Bibliography:

The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to compile, summarize, and evaluate the sources intended for use in a research paper. At this stage, you will not be asked to commit to these texts; in fact, you may ultimately find that some of them have no place in your research paper, but it is important that you go through the process of evaluating them, which will make you better prepared to synthesize and analyze your source materials. 


  1. A minimum of five scholarly sources (no maximum).  Remember that there are millions of sources—choose those that best address and support your specific argument.
  2. Correct MLA formatting.
  3. For each source, include a full MLA citation.  Remember, the citation here is the same as in a works cited page, so continue to use your MLA Handbook, 9th edition.
  4. An annotation follows each MLA citation.  The annotation should be a healthy paragraph in length (5-8 sentences) and include the following:
  5. Use 3rd person and stay formal.

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