Annotated Bibliographies

Why write an annotated bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies help guide your research process.  When writing an annotated bibliography, you must select research sources that best suit your topic.  In order to find the best materials for your research project, you must think critically about your sources.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations that also includes a paragraph that summarizes or evaluates contents of each source.   This paragraph is called an “annotation.”

There are different types of annotations:

Summary:  Your annotation will include a concise description of the contents of the source.  If you are annotating a scholarly article, you must outline the author’s argument and key supporting ideas. 

Evaluation:  Contains a critical assessment of the source in question.  You may need to describe the source's relevance to your research project.

Your instructor may ask you to produce annotations that contain both a summary and an evaluation.

Annotation Structure

Author.  “Article Title.”  Journal Title Volume/Issue Numbers (Year): Page numbers. Print.*

A brief description of the contents of this source, including key ideas and concepts.

A critical assessment of the source.   How does this source relate to your research project?

Please adhere to the requirements outlined in your assignment for more information about the number of annotations in your bibliography as well as the length of each annotation.  Your list of annotations may be in alphabetical order (in accordance with author names) or grouped by subject, if your annotated bibliography is lengthier. 

*This citation is in the MLA format.  Please use the format specified by your instructor. 

What kinds of sources should I annotate?

Annotated bibliographies might include primary sources (eg. archival documents, poetry and novels, life writings), secondary sources (eg. scholarly articles, books, book chapters) or both.  The contents of your annotated bibliography will depend upon you assignment.  For instance, your instructor might ask you to focus on scholarly articles. 

In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of your topic, you will need to read multiple sources.  If you are evaluating a secondary source, try to identify the author’s thesis statement. 

Consult this tutorial about reading scholarly articles:

How do I evaluate a source?

Consider the following questions:

  1. What is this source?  For instance, is it a scholarly article or is it a website?
  2. Who is the author? What are his/her credentials?
  3. Who is the intended audience? Does the author use specialized terms or concepts?
  4. Where does the author get his/her information?
  5. How does this source support my research? Does the author’s argument support my own findings? Is this source contentious or does it agree with other sources?

For more help, take the CRAAP test: 

Other Resources:


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