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Annotated Bibliography

Provides information about the structure and parts of an annotated bibliography and how to evaluate resources for it. Also provides a diagram (example) of an annotation and a list of library books and online links for more information.

Annotated Bibliography

One of the most important aspects of conducting any research is compiling a bibliography of sources.  As you're going through the research process you may be asked - or you may find it useful - to create an annotated bibliography. Just like a regular bibliography this will contain publication information for the sources that you are citing in your work, but the annotated bibliography will also include a brief summary of the source and your own critical assessment of it's relevance, objectivity, and usefulness.  This allows you to keep an organized record of your own critical thinking throughout the research process.

Annotation, in Pieces

So how exactly do you compose an annotation?  Well, a good annotation is made up of two parts:

1.  Summary

      Your summary of a source is basically a quick run through of the work's topic and main points.  You want to give a concise overview of the source, rather than a detailed account.  The length of your annotations may vary, but the summary is usually less important than your critical assessment of the work and will be shorter.  You want to dedicate more space and effort to evaluating the source.

 2. Evaluation/Assessment

      There are several different factors that can go into evaluating a source (they will be discussed in more detail on the second page of this guide) but it is generally a good idea to start by providing a scholarly or historical context for the work.  Discuss the thesis and conclusions that the author reaches and where those fit into the general scholarly thinking regarding the topic.  You might also consider the author's qualifications and past publications as well as how the source relates to your own work.  

Step by Step

1. Citation for your source

2. Summary of the Source.

3. Your critical analysis of the source

4. Statement of Relevance/Usefulness

Organizing Your Sources

Your annotated bibliography can be organized in several different ways, depending on your focus and what makes the most sense for your research.  As long as your professor hasn't assigned a specific kind of order, you can use any of the following:

Alphabetical - a simple alphabetical structure by the author's last name gives a clear, easy to follow order.

Chronological - organizing chronologically by publication date allows you to track developments in the field over time.  Working almost like a concept map, this structure allows you to see when and why the general consensus in a field starts to change and what kinds of ideas and arguments develop as a result of that change.  

Topic/Subtopic - Like an alphabetical structure, organizing by subtopic gives you a clear and easy to follow layout with the added benefit of linking together related ideas and concepts.