How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
If you do not know how to write an annotated bibliography, this article is definitely worth reading. First of all, let us find out how to write an annotated bibliography for college. A bibliography means a list of references, such as books, electronic books, websites, scientific journals, newspapers, and magazines, which have been used by a student in the process of researching a topic. Another name for a bibliography is a reference list or a works cited page. Actually, the name varies depending on the format you are required to follow. However, there is a slight difference between a list of references and a bibliography since the latter provides full bibliographic information about the source, such as the publisher, title, and the author(s).
Now you have probably understood what a bibliography is. But how to write an annotated bibliography? An annotation relates to a summary or critical evaluation. As such, an annotated bibliography includes a brief summary, critique, and critical evaluation of the given sources. Depending on the type of assignment, an annotated bibliography may be organized in the following way:
1.Summary of the source. There are annotated bibliographies that provide only summaries of sources without any critique. In this case, you need to answer the following questions when organizing your summary:
- What are the core arguments provided in the source?
- What is the main point/ purpose/ aim, etc. of the source?
- What are the topics?
- What things would you mention if you were asked about this source?
2.Critical assessment. After providing a brief summary of the source, there is a need to provide a critical review of it and assess its main points. Pinpoint to whether it was useful for the research, what strengths and weaknesses it has in comparison with other sources, what the purpose of the source is, etc.
3.Reflection or critical evaluation. Make sure you evaluate the source in relation to your own experience. How did it help you to research the topic? Was it a useful/ helpful source? How did it help you in formulating your central paper claim? Did it make you change your viewpoint on the topic?
Main Concepts of How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
- The main aim of writing an annotated bibliography is to provide your readers or the target audience with the general idea of the sources you used in the paper. Namely, an annotated bibliography introduces your source, provides key information about it, and evaluates the effectiveness of the source for the research.
- Keep in mind that an annotated bibliography is not the same thing with the paper abstract. When you write an abstract, you provide a brief synopsis of the paper at the beginning of your research. In the annotated bibliography, you focus mainly on the used sources and provide your own opinion on them.
- One of the most useful annotated bibliography writing tips is that it highlights the core theme of your source.
- An annotated bibliography is a part of the paper that is written in your own words and is thus original in content. The main aim of the annotated bibliography is to help anyone reading your research get an idea of the sources and see how useful they proved to be for your study.
An Annotated Bibliography for Students: Guidelines on Structure
All students are probably aware that academic papers are somewhat similar in their structure. All in all, it does not matter whether you need to write an essay, an abstract, a research paper or any other piece of academic paperwork, the principles of organization will be more or less the same:
Introduction: provides general background on the topic and puts forward the thesis statement.
The main body: consists of several body paragraphs and discusses the topic in detail. It includes both summative and analysis parts.
Conclusion: reiterates the thesis and emphasizes the most important points from the discussion.
Still, when it comes to annotated bibliography writing, the structure will be different. As such, you should carefully read the following information about the contents of an annotated bibliography example:
- Provides full and comprehensive information about the source (full citation);
- Pinpoints to the author’s educational or professional background;
- Covers the main idea of the source;
- Highlights the central argument;
- Mentions who the source targets;
- Emphasizes on the research methods;
- Mentions the main source findings;
- Discusses the credibility of the source and the plausibility of findings;
- Underlines usefulness of the source to the research;
- Presents writer’s personal opinion on the source and its role in the research process.
An Annotated Bibliography Format
- Follow the required citation format mentioned in the instruction guidelines.
- Highlight the purpose of the work and the core aspects, which it covers.
- Mention the credibility of the source and its author’s qualifications.
- Discuss the role of the source in conducting the research.
- Critically evaluate the author’s position demonstrated in the source.
- Provide necessary links to other academic sources related to your field of research.
Points 1-4 are inseparable for a proper annotation whereas points 5-6 relate merely to the critical part. Still, they may also be included in some other types of annotation bibliographies apart from evaluative ones.
If the research/ study is really large and extensive and its bibliography contains a lot of sources, keep in mind that you are recommended to group them into sections according to their topic, scope of study or any other criteria.
When Is an Annotated Bibliography Required?
As a rule, you need to provide an annotated bibliography when you are working on a more serious and complicated academic work. Particularly, you will hardly ever be required to write an annotated bibliography for an essay or some other short paper. Still, when it comes to term papers or dissertations, an annotated bibliography is a must. Particularly, if you major in economics, medicine or history, you will be definitely required to add annotations to the research since you need to be able to explain why you used specific sources and what role they played in the research.