Format of the Journal
At the top of the page beginning each entry, identify your source in correct APA format. Then address the following questions (understanding that not all will be pertinent to each source).

Evaluating the Content

  • What did you learn from this source? (in general terms--this is not your note-taking venue)
  • What is the thesis or claim of this reading? Is there a perspective or slant that you can identify?
  • Does this source acknowledge opposing viewpoint(s)? Does it do so fairly?
  • Is this piece intended as an argument? Is it an effective one?
  • How does this information connect to or contradict other sources you are reading on this topic?
  • Are there sources cited in this reading that you would find useful? That you would distrust?
  • other observations?

Evaluating the rhetorical setting (who is talking to whom)

  • Who is the author(s) and what is his/her expertise in the subject? (Note: if your source is written anonymously, what might that suggest? If it is a government document, what does that mean?)
  • What do you think is the motive or purpose of the author?
  • Who do you think is the intended readership/audience for this source? How does that affect its content and language?
  • How does the writer try to persuade readers (ethos? logos? pathos?)
  • other observations?

Concluding entry in your journal (for each source)
At the end of your journal for each specific source, address the following questions:

  1. In general, how would you characterize the most difficult problem connected to researching this topic?
  2. In general, how would you characterize the sources connected to this topic (general quality, helpfulness, bias)?
  3. What is the significance of the topic? Has your sense of the issue or problem become more complex as a result of your research? How?
  4. Are there any types of sources or kind of materials that you need and cannot find?
  5. What else needs to be said about this topic? Do you feel prepared to add to this scholarly discussion?

Note: Because your journal will be fairly complete by the time you begin drafting your paper (although you will need to add sources as you write), your first draft should be pretty easy to do!

adapted from Jen Bray :)