Annotated Bibliography Writing

Definition of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography usually resembles a list of sources related to a specific topic as well as a brief description and/or evaluation of each reference. Every annotated bibliography should include 2 elements – a full name of the source (author’s name, date of publication, title, etc.) and a paragraph summarizing the key ideas.

Students are asked to write annotated bibliographies as stand-alone assignments before working on a larger research project. In this way, professors are able to identify if students managed to cover the assigned readings. There are different elements discussed in each annotation. Please have a look at the example presented below. However, you are strongly encouraged to follow instructions assigned by your professor because some annotations oblige students to summarize the content of books only; others – evaluate and interpret author’s key ideas, etc.

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To compose an annotated bibliography, a writer should:

  • Conduct research on the topic and review existing literature on the topic (remember that only newly published sources should be taken into consideration);
  • Be able to differentiate between quality scholarly sources that directly refer to your topic;
  • Focus on a variety of sources – journal, books, interviews, online articles, etc.;
  • Collect sources according to specific instructions (online or printed sources; peer-reviewed sources, etc.).
  • Analyze and systematize data based on your research.

Annotated bibliography is usually completed before working on a larger research project. They allow students to get acquainted with a topic and sources available on the web or in libraries.

The Checklist with Questions

While working on your annotated bibliography, please keep in mind the following questions that will allow you working in the right direction and get a good grade for the task.

  • What specific topic am I researching?
  • What research question am I investigating? What about the aim of this literature review?
  • What kinds of sources comply with my assignment? Should I focus on printed, online, peer-reviewed or any other type of sources?
  • Do the chosen sources correspond to my topic? Did I manage to follow professor’s instructions?
  • Did I select newly published sources?
  • Are the chosen sources valuable for my research?

How to Write Annotations

  • Remember that every annotation should include a specific number of words (usually it is specified in the task file). Annotations should be brief and concise. You have to write a summary, not an essay. You should focus on the most relevant details only.
  • Do not include reference and background ideas in your annotation. Cross referencing should not take place in writing an annotated bibliography.
  • Annotations should consist of full sentences, not bullet points or short phrases.

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How Annotated Bibliography Should Look Like

You should include a full name of the source (present bibliographic details). The rest of the text should be dedicated to the brief annotation.

You should arrange all sources alphabetically. In some cases, students are asked to arrange sources according to some other categories (e.g. according to a thematic division). A typical annotation usually includes 100-200 words, but the word count frames should be clarified with your instructor. Moreover, you should carefully check what elements your annotation should include.

The Content of Annotated Bibliography

Here is a list of points that annotated bibliographies may include. Please note that it is a suggested plan for annotating and some points may be excluded in your assignment. Moreover, please check the number of words dedicated to each annotation, which will help you identify if you can provide answers to all points below or can overlook some parts of the proposed plan:

  • Include complete bibliographic information (a name of the source);
  • State the topic and scope of research;
  • Indicate the key argument (arguments);
  • Mention the key audience;
  • Outline the research methods (both empirical and non-empirical);
  • Identify possible issues and their solutions;
  • State author’s conclusion ;
  • Interpret the reliability and validity of information;
  • Distinguish any features of the text that make it remarkable;
  • State if the source will be useful in your research;
  • Indicate limitations of the research;
  • Include your opinion about the read text.

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