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Annotated Bibliographies: Overview

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of cited references that includes both a brief paragraph (or annotation) of each source. Each cited reference should be in the appropriate reference list citation style in alphabetical order by author.

Your specific assignment will dictate what is to be included in the annotation. Typically it would include:

  • a summary of the source,
  • how the source supports your research, and
  • an evaluation of the source's authority and credibility.

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

  • As a literature review on a particular topic
  • Demonstrating to the reader if a source should be considered for her/his research
  • To illustrate the quality of your research
  • Providing examples of the types of sources available
  • Giving your research historical perspective or relevance
  • Exploring the parameters of the subject
  • Preparing for future research

What else might you address in an annotated bibliography?

  • Audience – Who is the author addressing? Who should be reading this?
  • Authority – What are the writer’s credentials? Why should we believe what he has to say? Is the author really an authority?
  • Bias – Do the authors / publishers have a particular agenda they are trying to promote?
  • Content – Is what’s included appropriate? Is it worth reading?
  • Coverage – Is the topic explored thoroughly? Does the scope of the material match the author’s intentions? Is there a better work on this topic?
  • Currency – Is this up-to-date? Is timeliness important for this particular topic?
  • Organization – Does the arrangement of the content augment the argument?
  • Purpose – What does the author intend to convey? Does the author achieve this?
  • Relevance – Does this contribute significantly to research in this field?
  • Quality – Is this an exemplary demonstration of scholarship?
  • Special Features – Does this work include any attributes that benefit the reader and make it particularly useful? (illustrations, index, footnotes, recommended readings)
  • Writing Style – How does the manner in which the material is presented contribute to the overall purpose?

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