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Using the Right Sources

  • Briefly go over how you would use the library for this course
  • Discuss the information landscape 
  • Speak to different types of information you will encounter
  • Ask you to engage in a learning activity that can develop your critical evaluation skills
  • Share some examples of an annotated bibliography
  • Demonstrate some possibilities of how to break down your topic
  • Demonstrate how to find good sources using the Library, Google and Google Scholar
  • Plan how you can use AI to create an annotated bibliography
  • Direct you to citation resources and where to get help

Assignment Details

  • Choose an "ism"
  • Create an annotated bibliography of 8-10 scholarly sources using generative AI
  • Write a 4-6 page critical analysis about what was correct, incorrect or missing from the generated annotations

Annotated Bibliography


What is it?

An annotated bibliography is a list of references with a brief description

  • Includes complete bibliographic information (a citation)
  • Summarize the work – describe the content of the article
  • Evaluate the work – critically look at the scope or main purposes of the work. 
  • Note authority (who wrote it) and any possible biases
  • Determine the relevance – discuss how the source is relevant to your topic
  • Do NOT use the abstract to summarize, use your own words
  • Demonstrates that you have taken the time to look at a variety of sources to support your topic

Things to Remember

To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, remember these five important points:

1) Your paraphrased text should be significantly different from the original (i.e. don't just change a few words here and there)

2) You must change the structure of the sentence or paragraph you are paraphrasing, not just the words.

3) If you use anyone else's words verbatim (word for word) you need to put quotation marks around it.

4) Use proper citation methods to give credit for the ideas, opinions, or theories you are presenting.

5) Check that you have preserved the original meaning of the text in your paraphrased version

What do I need to include?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation. For this assignment, use APA style format (7th ed.)

Generally, an annotation is approximately 100-300 words in length (one paragraph). However, your professor may have different expectations so it is recommended that you clarify the assignment guidelines.

Your annotations for this assignment should include the following information:

  • •A brief explanation that establishes the author’s expertise. For example, where the author works and theirprofessional title. This information is usually listed on the title page of articles or the dust jacket of books.
  •  A sentence (or two) on the general topic or research question that the work addresses.
  • A sentence (or two) on the thesis or argument of the work.
  • A sentence on the author’s methodology. For example: What kinds of sources are used? Is it a case study or anoverview of scholarship on the subject? How is the book/article organized?
  • A sentence on how this source is relevant to your topic, and how it compares to other scholarship on the topic.

Examples of Annotated Bibliographies and how to format 

Why using good sources matter...

When you endeavor to find sources related to a topic of interest for your academic writing, you are demonstrating a number of skills

  • You are able to synthesize a variety of information and integrate it into your own work
  • You are able to investigate the dialogue that has occurred related to an area of interest and engage in that conversation through your academic writing
  • Using good, credible reliable sources will elevate the accuracy and authority of your own work

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Information, in any format, is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method.  The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting produce reflects these differences (ACRL par. 13).

  • Information creations are valued differently depending on the context and purpose for which they are created
  • Audience matters. Certain things are created for specific purposes and don't make one format of information better. It is up to us to discern what information process best fits our information needs.
  • In your own creation process, understand that your choices in what type of information you use, impact the purpose for which the information product you create will be used and the message it conveys.

Source: Project Cora

scholarly publication contains articles written by experts in a particular field. The primary audience of these articles is other experts. ... Academics use a variety of terms and language to describe this: "peer-reviewed", vetted academic, or "refereed". They all mean essentially the same thing and refer to the editorial and publication process in which scholars in the same field review the research and findings before the article is published, checking for validity, originality, and quality. 

  Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed Popular/Not Scholarly
Author Expert Journalist / Professional Writer
Review Reviewed by an editorial board or other experts ("peers") Reviewed by an editor
Audience /
Scholars and students / Academic
Technical language
General public
Easy to understand

Original Research
Uses previously published literature for background

News and practical information
Uses a variety of sources for background 
Sources Always cited Sometimes cited

Peer-reviewed articles
Scholarly books
Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis
Thesis and dissertations

Academic encyclopedias

Magazine articles
Newspaper articles
Blog articles
web encyclopedias (wiki)
Social media

  1. What are the author’s credentials? Is it written by an expert?
  2. Published in a journal (is there a DOI?) If you are not sure if it is a journal article enter the title of the publication into Ulrichs Web
  3. Academic language
  4. Includes reference list
  5. Length
  6. A "Received" and "Accepted" date
  7. Is it an actual article? Sometimes other types of content are included in scholarly publications, such as editorials/opinion pieces and book reviews.  Make sure you are looking at an article. 


Cappellini, B., Kravets, O., & Reppel, A. (2019). Shouting on social media? A borderscapes perspective on a contentious hashtag. Technological Forecasting and Social Change145, 428-437.

Wang, R., Liu, W., & Gao, S. (2016). Hashtags and information virality in networked social movement: Examining hashtag co-occurrence patterns. Online Information Review40(7), 850-866.

For the following exercise, join the group that matches your birthday and complete the exercise.

Group 1 (your birthday is in January, February, March, or April)

Scan the following resource (you don't need to read it in full), 

Consider the following:

  • What are the qualifications of the author(s)?
  • What type of evidence do they use to support their argument? Data, personal opinions, etc.?
  • Who is the intended audience of this article? How does that impact how it is written?
  • Does this source undergo any type of review or quality control?


Group 2 (your birthday is in May, June, July, or August)

Scan the following resource (you don't need to read it in full)

Consider the following:

  • What are the qualifications of the author(s)?
  • What type of evidence do they use to support their argument? Data, personal opinions, etc.?
  • Who is the intended audience of this article? How does that impact how it is written?
  • Does this source undergo any type of review or quality control?


Group 3 (your birthday is in September, October, November, or December)

Scan the following resource (you don't need to read it in full)

Consider the following:

  • What are the qualifications of the author(s)?
  • What type of evidence do they use to support their argument? Data, personal opinions, etc.?
  • Who is the intended audience of this article? How does that impact how it is written?
  • Does this source undergo any type of review or quality control?

Scholarly Sources 

  • Are written by experts
  • Are reviewed by experts
  • Always consult other research/scholarly sources (include a list of references)
  • Will normally be in the form of scholarly books, scholarly journals and scholarly encyclopedias

Finding the Right Sources

Narrowing down your topic

Your Research Question

  • Clear: easily understood by your audience
  • Focused: narrow enough to allow you to address it in your assignment
  • Concise: expressed in the fewest possible words
  • Complex: Cannot be answered with yes or no. Is not a leading question
  • Open: open to research - should generate more questions
  • Phrase your topic in the form of a research question

Thinking about key words


Figure 2. Copely, R. Huge stand in the market with a large selection of fruits [Photograph].

What words would you use to describe this image? 

Questions to consider

  • Are you using the terminology that an expert in the field would use?
  • Is there more than one way to spell the word?
  • Are there any synonyms or other terms that could apply to your topic?
  • Are there sub-topics that can help you specify or narrow down your topic? 
  • Consider writing out your topic in a sentence and then highlighting the different concepts within. 

Using the Library 

There are a few ways to use the library.  

  • Use the library search box/Library Search - allows you to search the entire collection.  
  • Search in subject-specific databases - I have them listed under the articles tab on the GNED  guide.  You will be searching a smaller collection of sources.
  • Search in discipline-specific journals - This type of search will definitely yield fewer results.  It helps to know the publication title to use this feature effectively, but you can also type in a broader topic, as long as that word is contained within the title of the journal  Eg: forensic

Search Smarter!

You can search in a way to combine or omit different terms by telling the search engine exactly what you want…this can help you save some time (and frustration!)

  • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together - "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use  AND to combine search terms - "police violence" AND protester

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms - BLM OR "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol - demonstr*


Library Search

Things to remember when using Library Search:

  1. Sign in to save searches, items, and to request materials.

  2. Use the pin icon to save books and articles. 

  3. Use the filters on the right. You will use Availability, Resource Type, and Date filters most often.

  4. Some items won't be available. You can request unavailable items using interlibrary loan.

  5. When viewing an item record, scroll down to the Get It or Full Text section to get the item.

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to find peer-reviewed/scholarly material. Google Scholar has a nifty citation chaining function.  The Cited by function will forward you to indexed scholarly material that has cited an article that you may be interested in.  The Related Articles link will direct you to similar articles that may have the same metadata or keywords. 

The Advanced Search is found by clicking the menu icon (top left).
Besides providing links to articles in MRU databases, Google Scholar links to online repositories that contain articles the author has been allowed to upload. and ResearchGate are among the repositories searched by Google Scholar.

By clicking on the Settings icon, you can select library links to show library access for up to 5 libraries (type in Mount Royal and click on save).  If you are logged into the MRU library, links should automatically populate if you are running a Google search in another window. 

Note: Google uses different commands: ~; -; +; but AND/OR also works

If you are searching Google (not Google Scholar), you can also limit your search to show specific websites. Eg:

  • (United Nations)
  • (Government of Canada)
  • (UNESCO)
  • (World Bank)
  • (World Trade Organization)

Generative AI is getting a lot of hype - it has been around for a while but is accelerating at a rapid speed.  These tools offer a variety of functions including generating text from a prompt,  providing summaries of information, fixing and generating code, creating an image from a prompt, and translating text. 

If you are interested in trying it out, it is recommended that you treat it as a supplementary tool rather than your primary approach to research and writing.  Apply the same critical evaluation tools to AI as you would any source.  

Many AI tools fabricate results.  See the example below:

These answers are a bit problematic...why? 

"Digital Activism: The Role of Social Media in the Black Lives Matter Movement".  

-attempted to run a title search in Google and Google Scholar and it seems like a fake article.  J. Smith is such a generic name that it is hard to discern any additional information about the author. 

"From Hashtags to Street Protests: Examining the Evolution of Digital Activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement"

-Could not find an author or an actual article connected to this title.  It looks like this source is the most similar. 

"Black Lives Matter and the Power of Social Media Activism"

-Running a Google Scholar search, there are other authors with the same last name who have published in the area of activism and social media, but the article itself does not exist

"Tweeting for Justice: An Analysis of Twitter's Role in the Black Lives Matter Movement"

-Again, this article does not exist. 

It is all about developing the right prompt, just like thinking about your search strategy...specificity is key with the bot.  Even saying please and minor adjustments retrieved better results!

Tools to use (free)

Chat GPT 3.5

Quillbot ( need to have the text first, and then paste in in the box so the bot can summarize)

Things to consider

  • ChatGPT is designed to provide "plausible" responses, not credible responses. You will need to apply your critical evaluation skills to any results generated.
  • ChatGPT was not trained on paywalled content, which means the content the libraries subscribes to is often not reflected in ChatGPTs responses.
  • ChatGPT makes up/fabricates plausible sounding citations to sources that don't actually exist. 
  • ChatGPT was trained on information prior to 2021, so you will not get the most recent research relating to your topic

Some people don't use ChatGPT because of ethical considerations. Here are a few of those concerns.

  • Privacy: It collects and shares a lot of data about you it draws from your account information, your IP address and your activity using it. It does allow you to opt out of having your transcripts saved.
  • Copyright: ChatGPT was trained on information on the internet, including copyrighted information, with no permission from or payment to the creators. There are a lot of court cases about this as of Fall 2023.
  • Unpaid Labor: .It uses the prompts you enter to continue to train its models. This means it is using your work to train its subscription model as well, so many consider this unpaid labor.
  • Exploitative Labor Practices: Investigative journalists discoved that workers in Kenya, Uganda and India were paid $1-$2 per hour to review data for disturbing, graphic and violent images that were psychologically scarring.
  • Bias: The majority of information on the internet is in English and presents a western perspective, which means ChatGPT is learning from a biased data set. These biases are present in ChatGPTs output.
  • Cite Sources: Learn the correct way to cite sources by using these guides, tutorials, and videos.
  • Referencing Webinars: APA & MLA. Referencing Webinars are 75 minutes long.  Registration is required.
  • Online Appointments: Personalized online 30-minute appointments with a Learning Strategist

Take the APA Referencing Tutorial on D2L!

This self-paced 90-minute tutorial covers the same content as our live workshop—why citation is important along with the basics of in-text citations and reference entries in APA Style. Students who complete the tutorial will gain access to a form they can fill out and submit as proof of completion.

Access the tutorial on D2L: Using Google Chrome as your web browser, log in to D2L ( with your account. Click the “Discover” tab, then type “APA” in the search bar. Click on the “APA Referencing Tutorial” link and then the “Enroll in Course” button. If you have any questions about the tutorial, contact

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Madelaine Vanderwerff

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