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2. Preliminary Research, Annotated Bibliography & Status Quaestionis

2.1 Preliminary Research


First, start with Year 1:


Then procede with Year 2:


2.2 Annotated Bibliography



Annotation comes from the Latin annotationem (nominative annotatio), noun from past-participle stem of annotare "to observe, remark." In a broad sense, annotation is synonymous with side note, comment, footnote, note or caption. An annotation can be used for all sorts of things, whereby the annotation provides the necessary and appropriate context for the information. A bibliography can also be annotated. An annotated bibliography provides a brief explanatory commentary on the literature included in the list.




An annotation for a source shows how the source can be used in your research. You indicate the value of the source for your research. In the annotation, you include the essential concepts that are relevant to your research topic. An annotated bibliography is always aimed at advancing your own research.


Annotation versus Summary


An annotation for a source indicates the relevance or importance of the source for your own research. It is not a summary.


A summary is a considerably shortened version of the original text. The summary is about the complete content of the source including all related parts, but the less important issues or examples are omitted. The entire argumentation of the source is outlined in the summary. The purpose of a summary is to highlight the main points and key ideas. In its ultimate form, the title of the research is the shortest summary of the text. 


The summary contains no interpretation or judgement. Only the opinion of the original writer is represented in your own words without direct quotes from the text. This lack of interpretation or judgement distinguishes the summary from a review.


A summary follows the structure of the source and is written in a logical, chronological and traceable manner. Of course, you write the summary in general academic language. The length depends on the length of the original text, but should preferably be no longer than one page.


Writing a summary of a book or article is therefore different from writing an annotation for a book or article.


Style and Tone

The formulation of the annotation for a source is short and to the point. Because the annotation indicates how the source can be useful to your research, the tone is neutral to positive, focused on the usefulness of the source.


A source can of course also represent a point of view that you do not agree with. In that sense, you don't relate to content of the source in a positive way, but the source is positive in the sense of its usefulness to your research if you want to refute it. In the annotated source you explain in positive terms why the source is useful to you, even if you do not relate positively to the content of source.



  • correct citation according to the specified style sheet

  • place the annotated sources in alphabetical order by the last name of the authors

  • very short summary of the source in one to four sentences

  • brief description of the relevant concepts for your research

  • brief description of how you want to use the source and those concepts and why it is important for your research



Dickerman, L. Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris. Exhibition Catalogue. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2005.


This exhibition catalogue takes the review of the ‘Erste Internationale Dada-Messe’ (First International Dada Fair, held in Berlin in the summer of 1920) of the art historian Ernst Cohn-Wiener as its starting point. Cohn-Wiener described the fair in terms of a carnival, “a grotesque spectacle of freakish objects”.


This spectacle-approach to Dada might be useful for this paper because I hope to interpret the frightening appearance of the subjects in Otto Dix’s 1920 paintings in a performative framework.


Another useful aspect to this exhibition catalogue is that it used the First World War as the key historical framework for the entire Dada-movement, conceiving Dada in general as a symptom of war trauma.

2.3 Status Quaestionis 


State of investigation

Status Quaestionis means "the state of investigation". The Status Quaestionis is an overview of the academic literature of a field.


It is composed of the following elements:

  • which beliefs and ideas does the field consist of

  • what does the field entail

  • what knowledge and assumptions belong to the field

  • which academics are they from

  • what do you believe needs to be clarified


The Status Quaestionis thus provides a broad insight into how the field has developed up to this point.


Your contribution

Before you can study a subject within this field, you need to take note of this state of investigation. You have gained this insight by following the steps above. You can then indicate what your contribution will be to the development of academic discourse within the discipline and what your research objective is. You can also use this to substantiate the relevance of your research. The literature and the concepts that you will use for this, will form your own Theoretical Framework. The Theoretical Framework is thus a more specific overview of the literature relevant to your subject that follows from the larger overview of the entire discipline. The Theoretical Framework is therefore a follow-up to the Status Quaestionis. There will be an overlap between the Status Quaestionis and the Theoretical Framework.


Example questions

If you want to know what has already been written, you might ask:

  • what research methods have been used so far

  • what other disciplines apart from Art History have contributed to the developments

  • since when and for how long has the subject been studied

  • what theoretical and methodological shifts have taken place

  • which researchers are leading and cannot be ignored

  • what are the most important views and who holds these views

  • in which countries does the research take place


To indicate what still needs to be clarified, describe:

  • what are the lacunas in the knowledge

  • what contradictions there are (opposing opinions)

  • what discrepancies there are (observations that do not correspond with the theory)


For the description of your contribution you indicate:

  • what your subject is in relation to the lacunas and/or contradictions and/or discrepancies in the existing literature

  • what it is exactly that you want to know or research

  • why your research is relevant



Imagine the relationship between the Status Quaestionis and your Theoretical Framework as an hourglass - consisting of two mirrored funnel shapes. After preparing the Status Quaestionis in preparation for your research, you have collected literature and concepts for the specific framework of your own research. This Theoretical Framework is like the tip of the upper funnel that starts with the Status Quaestionis. After your research you indicate how your specific research can contribute to the research field as a whole. You then broaden from your specific research to the entire research field. This is like a reverse funnel from specific research to the entire research field. These two funnels, linked at their tips, are like an hourglass.

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