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SOC 311: Feminist Theory (Christy Craig)

This guide will walk you through the research process on how to find scholarly, sociology articles related to feminist theory. It includes the major sociology journals on women studies, citation instruction, how to read scholarly articles, and how to deve

Writing Annotations

You probably already have the skills to summarize a magazine article, newspaper article, or book. However, for scholarly articles, it's helpful to be familiar with the standard format. Scholarly articles are usually divided into standardized sections as described below. However, not every article will have every section listed below, and some may have additional sections specific to that article. 

  • Abstract: Brief summary of the article, including methodology and results. The abstract is a good place to start for determining if the article presents primary (lab or field) or secondary (library) research.
  • Introduction: Background information about the topic of research, with reasoning for why the study is being done. 
  • Literature Review: An analysis of previous research on the same topic. The literature review may address how ideas on the topic or research methods have changed over time, trends in previous research, a new interpretation of previous research, and/or gaps in the research where more study is needed.
  • Methods: How the study was done. The details of the research, including setup and how data was collected. The methods section is another good place to look for information on whether this is a primary or secondary source.
  • Results/Findings: Presentation of the data from the study. This section often includes charts, tables and graphs as visual representations of the data.
  • Discussion: Analysis of the data, and how the study relates to existing knowledge of the topic. The authors evaluate whether the results of their study actually answered their research question.
  • Limitations: The authors point out what questions their research didn't answer and/or other limitations in their research methods.
  • Conclusion: The authors wrap up the article by discussing how their study adds to the existing knowledge on the topic and outline potential research for further studies.
  • References: List of resources (articles, books, journals, etc) that authors consulted when developing their research.

Reading strategies: If you are a fast reader, you may prefer to read a scholarly article straight through. However, you may also want to jump around. Starting with the abstract will tell you whether you want to read the rest of the article. Either way, make sure you take notes!

You can use one of two tests to help you assess an information source: the 5W's or the CRAAP test. Pick whichever one resonates with you.

The Five W's

  • Who? Who wrote this? Can you even tell? Are they an authority in this topic? Credentials are important, but first-hand accounts are also important. Most importantly, who stands to benefit if you believe this source?
  • What? What kind of resource is this? Is it an advertisement? Newspaper article? Scholarly research article? Also, what kind of information does it present? Does the content match up with what you already know about this topic? Are there a bunch of advertisements, either related or unrelated to the topic of the article?
  • When? How up to date is the information? And how soon after the event was this published? (We've all seen false reports and misinformation happen shortly after major events like school shootings.) Also, how up to date do you need the information to be? Looking for reviews of classic movies that came out shortly after the cinematic debut versus critical acclaim that came years later can make a big difference.
  • Where? Country of origin?  How different is the information provided by CNN versus BBC versus Al-Jazeera? Also, where is this information in relation to the structure of the website? Is it on the front page? Is it buried?
  • Why? What's the purpose of the source? Is it trying to sell you something? Convince you of something? Also, why are you looking at this source? Entertainment? Medical research? Academic need?

The CRAAP Test

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining that this is one you will use?
  • Is this source appropriate for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    • examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? Teach? Sell? Entertain? Persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? Opinion? Propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

The reflection portion of the annotation discusses how the source is or would be useful in your paper. Since we usually use sources in one of four main ways, we use the BEAM model to determine this:

Background Sources - Materials that provide an overview of a topic, such as core concepts and facts

  • Used for information that is well established in the field.
  • These sources serve as the foundation for understanding the topic.

Exhibit Sources - Materials a writer is interpreting or analyzing

  • Used to provide examples and/or evidence.
  • Depending on your topic and discipline, exhibiting materials can be a novel, a data set, an interview, experimental results, a diary, scholarly books or articles, or any number of primary resources
    • Example: If you are researching depictions of working women on TV, an episode of Friends could be a resource for exhibit. If you are researching changes in employment in the United States, statistics from the Bureau of Labor might be an exhibit resource. 

Argument Sources - Information from other authors you agree with, disagree with, or build upon

  • Used to make claims related to your thesis statement and the argument you're making.
  • Citing them puts your research in the context of other scholarship on that topic; it brings you into conversation
  • Constitutes the literature review section in many disciplines. 
  • Note: you use your exhibit sources to explain why you agree, disagree, or want to improve upon your argument sources. 

Method Sources - Materials an author follows to determine how they are doing their research

  • Used to determine a governing concept or manner of working. 
  • Can include research procedures, theories, and sources of discipline-specific vocabulary.
  • Some methods become so common in a field that scholars do not feel the need to cite them but will presume their readers will know them.
    • Example: Scholars who study game theory in economics may feel no need to describe the prisoner's dilemma, while scholars in critical literacy studies may not define "reification."