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Annotated Bibliography

Description of what an Annotated Bibliography is, how to conduct one, and examples.

Annotated Bibliography


An Annotated Bibliography is a list of the articles the author has selected that pertain to the same general topic in some way.  It is alphabetized by authors last name and the annotation is short - usually 150 - 250 words or less.  The Bibliography should be inclusive, covering the topic thoroughly by showing different viewpoints about the same topic.  It should illustrate the relevance of the article to the topic, and it should address the quality of the article.


Annotation vs Abstract

An Annotation is not an Abstract since an Abstract is descriptive.  An Annotation is both descriptive and critical.  It tells about the article (descriptive) and makes a judgment about the importance and status of the article in the field (critical).


Why They are Done

Annotated Bibliographies are usually assigned as a way for the author to learn about a topic in broad terms and then to select and narrow the materials to those thought to be the most relevant by the author.  This process demonstrates the ability to critique and synthesize research and use it as the foundation for further research.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

1.  Check your assignment to see exactly what the instructor requires. 

      A.  Know what the minimum number of entries should be.  You can always do more if you are highly motivated. 

      B.  Know what type of material is required.   Does the instructor want only Scholarly Articles, a combination of scholarly articles and books, or book chapters.

      C. Know how long each annotation should be.  Most instructors set a minimum word length for each entry.  Try to stick with that.  Don't write a 500 word annotation when the requirement is for a short 150 word annotation.

2Read the material and take notes.  Notes should include at least one sentence using each one of the three elements in Step 4.

3.  Consult outside sources when needed.

4.  Write the review.  Include at least these 3 sections.  The annotation should be about 300 - 500 words, unless the instructor has asked for a short annotation.  In that case, the word count should be 150 - 250 words.

     A.  Descriptive sentence - brief coverage of contents, scope, methodology, and style of the article.

     B.  Analytical - critical assessment of the article's quality.  Include evaluative judgments.  Evaluative judgments include comparisons to other books, book chapters, articles, or media on the same subject.  Controversial elements, including new methodologies should be noted.     Conclusions reached should be reviewed succinctly in this section.  This section usually takes more than one sentence.

      C.  Assessment - evaluative statement of the contribution the article has made to the literature on the topic.  Judgments should be based on the analysis.


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