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Write an Annotated Bibliography

What does an annotated bibliography include?

For every annotation, you should provide the following information for each source (book, chapter, article, etc.) that you have chosen:

  • an overview of the source's main discussion
  • a summary of its thesis or argument
  • a description of the usefulness of the source for your own research 

Your annotations may also

  • place research on a particular topic in an historical context
  • assess the value of the reference for other scholars in the field and thus participate in the conversation of your academic community
  • distinguish areas for further research, thus helping you clarify your own potential research questions for future studies

1. Citation information

Provide the full bibliographic reference for each source (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Ask your professor what referencing style you should use. Make sure the appearance and form are consistent throughout every entry.

Note that each style guide suggests its own way of setting up an annotated bibliography.

2. Purpose

Focus on the central ideas in each source (i.e., the thesis, the arguments, the main findings and conclusions) and write objectively. (e.g., Smith argues that…Jones describes...Gonzales studies...)

Ask yourself

  • What is the author trying to accomplish?

3. Content

Summarize and critically evaluate the source (aims, research methods, scope, limitations) and its value for other scholars.

Ask yourself

  • How does the author support claims and develop ideas?

4. Relevance

Describe the relevance of the source to your topic.

Ask yourself

  • How useful and important is this source to your research project or to this field?

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