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American Indian Women: Myth, Ritual, & Sacred Power: Academic Research

Resource guide for AMERICAN INDIAN WOMEN: MYTH, RITUAL & SACRED POWER RLST 032-:078 and AINSP 149:082

Defining your topic

Begin by clearly mapping out the concepts you want to research. This will help you identify the key terms and concepts you should use when searching electronic databases and print research resources.


a. Clarify your understanding of the topic by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What level of research does your assignment require? Is it a brief class presentation or are you preparing to write a research paper with a bibliography and footnotes?
  • What do you already know about your topic?
  • What are the main issues?
  • Does your topic deal with historical or current events?
  • Has your lecturer required that you consult certain types of materials such as popular or scholarly journals, newspapers, or a particular database?

Selecting and Using the Best Research Resources

Scholarly vs. Popular Publications

Web vs. Library Resources

University Press vs. Regular Publishers



Evaluating resources

Critically analyze information sources to evaluate the authority and quality of the books and articles you located. If you have found too many or too few sources, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic. Check with a librarian or your instructor.

  • Who is the author?
  • How current is the information?
  • How in-depth is the information?  Is it accurate?
  • Can you see any bias?
  • What is the domain?

Evaluating Information

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Documenting / Citing Your Research

Information sources always need to be properly cited in your work within the paper and at the end. Find out which citation standard your professor wants you to use (Chicago, APA, MLA) and use online and print guides to help you format each citation. Refworks is a helpful application that will format the entries for you.

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents.
  • Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation.
  • The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

  • Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes.
  • Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.

The Process

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

  • locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.
  • briefly examine and review the actual items.
  • choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
  • cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
  • write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that
    • evaluate the authority or background of the author,
    • comment on the intended audience,
    • compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or
    • explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

Sample annotated bibliography entry for a journal article

The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation:

Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51(4), 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

From: McCain Library