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The Assignment

Requirements for your research critique/annotated bibliography:

  • Two current resources published within the past 8 years:
    • professional magazine articles, websites, government reports etc.
    •  scholarly articles or book chapters
  • Each annotation will include:
    • citation/reference in APA
    • introduction and summary
    • analysis of author's intentions, key points and findings 
    • conclusion (personal reflections, applicability to question and relation/connection to other resources)
  • One single-spaced page

Types of literature

Types of Literature


Grey literature

Professional or trade journals

Scholarly journal articles:

  • published by experts in the field
  • evidence of original research
  • includes a literature review
  • possibly peer-reviewed

Scholarly books and book chapters

  • published by a scholarly/university press
  • well researched

authors are affiliated with a university or relevant organization

Government reports and data

  • Datasets
  • Reports from not-for-profits and NGOs
  • Academic and non-academic conference presentations
  • Theses and dissertations
  • White papers

Blogs and newsletters

Professional or trade journals:

  • Written by practitioners or professionals

Unlike scholarly journals, trade publications do not contain original research and are meant to be practical in nature. Their focus is on current practices and issues.

Search for these in library databases or Google Scholar

Search for these in Google, Google Scholar or ERIC

Search for these resources using Library databases or  Google 

Sample Search:

"gender differences "AND elementary AND learning

Sample Search:

filetype:pdf "english language learners"

Sample Search

"teacher* assistant*" "English language learners" kindergarten

Refining your Topic & Research Question

Narrow your topic:

  • Start with a broad topic: Increasing motivation and engagement in the classroom
  • Narrow to an age group: preschool, kindergarten, teenagers, elementary, secondary
  • Narrow to one or several aspects of the topic: academic achievement, subject area

Focused topic:

Using guided play to increase motivation in kindergarten mathematics

Inquiry or 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 an inquiry question:

  • Focused question: How does play impact motivation for learning mathematics in kindergarten? 


Add your question to the Jamboard on a sticky note.

Use key words from your question to develop a search strategy


Search techniques

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. 

  4. When viewing an item, scroll down to the bottom - Get It or Full Text section to link to the full text or write down a call number.

Combine or omit different terms by telling the search engine exactly what you want:

  • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together “white collar crime"

  • Use NOT to omit unwanted results "domestic abuse" NOT "children" 

  • Use an asterisk (wild card) to include all of the possible endings- eg. teach* = teacher, teachers, teaching etc.


Education Databases

APA citation resources

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Pearl Herscovitch
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