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Thus far, you’ve learned how to critically approach a variety of texts, how to make the most of different writing spaces like blogs and wikis, how to begin the brainstorming process by freewriting and drawing from personal experience, and how to identify and trace the ongoing conversations about particular issues. The bibliographic essay asks you to evaluate the conversation about the topic you’ve chosen by demonstrating through supporting evidence how the conversation has—or has not—changed over time. Such an exercise requires you to think critically about your sources, noting their major arguments, angles, contexts, etc., and will help you better understand the nature of research: it’s not about “dropping in” quotes to support your points; it is about demonstrating your awareness of what people have said about a topic prior to your entering the conversation and locating yourself within the conversation by aligning with or diverging from sources.

The section that follows includes articles that will help you write your bibliographic essay. After having learned about more informal genres of writing like the personal narrative, you will now learn to write more formally, using the third-person point of view as well as diction appropriate for college-level essays. Then, you will learn how to effectively integrate source material into your essay, avoiding plagiarism and navigating the formatting style of MLA.