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Annotated Bibliographies: Overview

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of cited references, in alphabetical order. Each citation is followed by a brief paragraph evaluating the source, called an annotation.

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

  • a summary of the source, and
  • how the source supports your research.

What is its purpose?

  • Give an overview and examples of literature on a particular topic
  • Illustrate why a source is useful for your research
  • Demonstrate the quality of your research
  • Explore the historical parameters or perspectives on the subject
  • Prepare for future research

What else might be included?

  • Audience – Who would be most interested in reading this?
  • Bias – Do the authors / publishers have a particular agenda they are trying to promote?
  • Content – Is what’s included appropriate? 
  • 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, and how important is timeliness for this particular topic?
  • Organization – Does the arrangement of the content help the argument?
  • Purpose – What does the author intend to convey? 
  • 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 make it particularly useful to the reader? (illustrations, index, footnotes, recommended readings)
  • Writing Style – How does the manner in which the material is presented contribute to the overall purpose?