An annotated bibliography is a written assignment (paper, journal article, appendix to a journal article, or complete book) consisting of a series of entries on a single theme, organized either alphabetically, by date, or by topic. Each entry consists of two parts:
Each annotation enables readers to see the relationship of a number of written works to each other and in the context of the topic studied. Many annotations are both descriptive (telling readers what the source is about) and critical (evaluating the source’s usefulness or importance).
In the sciences and some of the more scientific disciplines of the social sciences, annotated bibliographies are rarely used; when they are used, they will often be primarily summary or descriptive—that is, they will paraphrase the original text.
In the arts and some social sciences, annotated bibliographies will be judged by how critical and analytical they are and often by how the writer links the text's usefulness to their potential or imaginary research project.
The summary or descriptive annotated bibliography provides a summary of the main findings in a source with no analysis or evaluation.
A critical annotation goes beyond a simple summary of the original source.
Annotated bibliographies can be organized in three different ways:
Most undergraduate-level annotated bibliographies are relatively short and will not need an introductory paragraph and/or separate sections.
Longer annotated bibliographies may necessitate an introductory paragraph, explaining the scope of the selected sources (within certain dates, within geographic parameters, only in a certain discipline, etc.), or noting any other particulars (such as abbreviations, etc.).
The specific length of your annotations and the number of sources will vary from assignment to assignment. Check with your professor to find out what length and organizational style is preferred.
The text of an annotation normally ranges from four to ten sentences. This limit forces the writer to focus on the central ideas in the source.
A long annotated bibliography may be preceded by an introduction to the topic chosen, with a discussion of the rationale behind the selection of the entries for the bibliography as well as the exclusion of others, and the timeframe covered.
In a very long annotated bibliography, the entries are often numbered, but this is rare in undergraduate student papers. Other options for longer annotated bibliographies would be to arrange entries under topic and subtopic headings, or in chronological order.
After you have written a draft,
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