Tips for writing an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, Web site or another type of publication. An annotation should give sufficient information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work.
An annotated bibliography is an alphabetically organized list of research sources or a reference list. It is different from a direct bibliography as every reference is followed by a paragraph long annotation, typically of 100–200 words. An annotated bibliography is a citation that uses 100 to 200 words to explain about each source referenced to back all opinions and conclusions in the research. In addition to bibliographic data, an annotated bibliography also gives a concise review of each source and some assessment of its importance. Subject to your assignment, an annotated bibliography may be a single point in larger research, or it may be an independent project by itself.

Two different types of annotated bibliographies:

  • Descriptive or Informative: These types of citations describe a source and its usefulness, as well as all arguments of the cited author. A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography defines or recaps a source as does an abstract. It describes the usefulness of the source for researching a particular topic or question, its distinctive features. It also describes the author’s main opinions and deductions without assessing what the author states or accomplishes.
  • Analytical or Critical: An analytical or critical annotation not only reviews the material, but it also evaluates what is being held. It critically studies the strengths and weaknesses of what is offered as well as clarifying the relevance of the author’s conclusions to the research being conducted.

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he/she prefers. A type of bibliography is likely to be determined by your instructor. He/she may tell you what type of citation to apply. An annotated bibliography has various purposes which are subject to the assignment:

  • Give a literature review on a specific topic
  • Assist in constructing a thesis on a subject
  • Show the research you have accomplished on a specific topic
  • Give examples of most important sources of information accessible on a topic
  • Define items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

Selecting the sources
Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must carefully select your sources. For this, discover records to materials that may relate to your topic. The quality and effectiveness of your bibliography will be subject to your choice of sources. Describe the scope of your research wisely so that you can make respectable judgments about what to include and omit. Your research should try to be reasonably broad within correct definite borders similar to:

  • If your bibliography is part of a research project, it will possibly be directed by a research question. If your bibliography is an independent project, express your topic as a query in order to explain your search more accurately.
  • Identify the type of material – Different categories are academic books or journal articles, Government reports or policy statements, Articles from the popular press, Primary historical sources? etc.
  • Read footnotes in articles cautiously to see what sources they use and why. Look out for studies that are talked about by quite a few of your sources.

Summarizing the argument of a source
Evaluate the genuine items and select those that give varied observations on your topic. Article abstracts are useful in this process. An annotation concisely reaffirms the main argument of a source. For example, an annotation of an academic source typically classifies its thesis, its chief techniques of analysis, and its main assumptions. Classifying the argument of a source is not the same as explaining or listing its contents. Rather than cataloguing contents, an annotation should describe why the contents are included.

The following reading approaches can help you classify the argument of your source:

  • Ascertain the author’s main purpose or research query. Both the outline and the deduction can assist you with this.
  • Search for duplication of main expressions or concepts. Monitor them exhaustively through the text and understand how the author uses them.
  • Observe how the text is arranged and systematized. Look out for the main divisions or sections and what is highlighted. This will help you to understand further than the listing contents and in the direction of giving a description of the argument.
  • Detect whether and how a theory is exploited to infer evidence or data. Classify the technique used to inspect the problems remarked in the text.
  • Take note to the opening sentence(s) of each paragraph, where authors every so often states briefly their chief opinion in the paragraph.
  • Look for paragraphs that review the argument. A section may sometimes start or end with such an assessment.

Evaluating the significance of sources
Your annotation should concisely evaluate the importance of the source. If your bibliography is part of a research project, classify how and why you propose to apply the source in brief. If your bibliography is an independent project, try to evaluate the source’s association with the research on your topic.

  • Are you interested in the way the sources to write an Annotated Bibliography structures its research question or its various approaches about answering it method? Does it create new influences or built-up up fresh techniques of viewing a problem?
  • Are you concerned about the approach the source uses a theoretical structure or a key theory?
  • Does the source collection and study a particular body of proof that you want to utilize?
  • How do the source’s assumptions accept your own analysis?
  • To decide how you will use the source or define its input, you will need to evaluate the worth of the argument. How well defined is its research struggle and its boundaries? How real is its technique of study? How good is the proof? Would you draw the identical inferences from the proof?

Various kinds of annotated bibliographies
Annotated bibliographies do come in many variants. Consider the necessities of your assignment. Here are some potential variations:

  • Some assignments may involve you to review only and not to assess.
  • Some assignments may want you to observe and remark on the comparison between sources; other assignments may want you to handle each source individually.
  • If the bibliography is lengthy, try grouping it in segments. Your groupings should help explain your research query.
  • Some assignments may need or permit you to foreword the bibliography or its segments with a paragraph clarifying the scope of your study and giving a justification for your choice of sources.


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