Annotated Bibliography: An Overview and Example
This document provides an overview of the elements contained within an annotated
bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, journal articles, and
documents that provides an account of the research that has been done on a given topic. Like any
bibliography, an annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of research sources. In this course,
we will use the American Psychological Association (APA) style. In addition to bibliographic data,
an annotated bibliography provides a concise summary of each source and some assessment of its
value or relevance. The first step in creating an annotated bibliography is to locate and record
citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your
topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items and choose those works that provide a variety of
perspectives on your topic. Once you have selected your articles, you can then proceed to create your
annotated bibliography. There are generally four major sections to an annotated bibliography:
1. The citation (i.e., the reference) according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, etc.);
2. A brief (about 150 words) summary of the article that summarizes the purpose of the article, the
central theme and scope of the article, and the findings—all which shows among other things that
you have read and thoroughly understand the source;
3. Salient quotes from the article (usually a minimum of two quotes no more than three sentences
4. A short (about 150 to 200 words) reflection on the article that provides a concise summary of
that article’s value or relevance to your research. Questions to consider answering in your
reflection may include the following:
a. Is the article useful for your study? Explain why or why not.
b. What did you, or did you not, agree with?
c. What intrigued you about the article?
d. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the article?
e. Did the article raise any questions for you about your research?
f. How do the findings of the article compare with findings of other articles?
g. Did the author(s) have a particular bias or were they trying to reach a specific audience?
Annotated bibliographies are extremely useful when conducting research and they can save you
significant time when it comes to writing-up your research paper. Annotated bibliographies are
useful for the following reasons:
1. Annotated bibliographies force you to better understand your research topic, as they help you to
make connections to other literature and provide you with background information on your topic.
2. They help you logically organize the research that has been conducted on your topic and make
sense of it.
3. They help you with your statement of purpose—refining it and ensuring it is concise and clear.
4. They help you improve your research skills.
5. They pre
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