What is an annotated bibliography?

Updated on June 4, 2016 in Writing Tips
1 on June 4, 2016

I have to write annotated bibliography for my research paper and I’m not sure how to do it. Does anyone have any suggestions or web sites to go to for examples?

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0 on June 4, 2016

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of resources (books, documents, articles, videos, websites). Every entry in the annotated bibliography is formatted according to the rules of a certain citation style and followed by a brief explanation and evaluation of its quality and relevance.

  1. The purposes of an annotated bibliography
  2. Organization of an annotated bibliography
  3. Elements of an annotated bibliography entry
  4. Structure and format of an annotated bibliography
  5. Useful vocabulary

The purposes of an annotated bibliography

The main purposes of an annotated bibliography include the following:

  • To give examples of the available resources
  • Show the quality of research conducted
  • Start a research of the subject
  • Describe other items related to the subject matter

Depending on the scope of the bibliography, it can be comprehensive (attempting to include as many sources as possible or even all of them) or selective (including only sources illuminating a selected parameter).

Organization of an annotated bibliography

The alphabetical order is the most common way of organizing sources in an annotated bibliography. The other options for organizing the entries are the following:

  • Chronological (according to the year of publication or the period of the subject matter or philosophical movement).
  • By the authors’ approaches to the subject matter.
  • By format of the sources (books separated from articles and web pages etc.).

Elements of an annotated bibliography entry

The main elements of each entry in the annotated bibliography include the following:

  1. The annotation credentials, including the authors’ names, the source title, date and place of publication, cited according to the rules of the corresponding citation style;
  2. findings and conclusions made by the authors (must have);
  3. format – book/ article/ web page and special features if any, such as glossary or index, for example (must have);
  4. relationship to other works in the field, special contributions (must have);
  5. authors’ authority – years of experience working in the field, degrees or other professional achievements (optional);
  6. potential bias – what might influence their opinions (optional).

Structure and format of an annotated bibliography

No introduction, conclusion or transitions sentences between paragraphs are necessary for the annotated bibliography. The annotated bibliography consists of separate paragraphs which are united only with the topic under discussion.

Length: each entry in the annotated bibliography usually is as clear and concise as possible. It usually takes 100 – 150 words per entry (unless something different is instructed).

Grammar: the third person is commonly used, though the first person might be used in some exceptional cases.

Syntax: Complete sentences are the most appropriate structure for an annotated bibliography, but simple phrases or lists can be used as well.

Structure: Every entry is one paragraph long. Every paragraph starts from a brief summary of the author’s position and core arguments.

Useful Vocabulary

To avoid the repetition of the same constructions, the authors can use varied language :

  1. It was found out that…
  2. It was suggested that…
  3. It was reported that…
  4. The authors state…
  5. The purpose of this report is…
  6. This article concerns…

The other ways to say ‘say’:

analyze argue assess conclude describe evaluate
examine explain illustrate imply investigate narrate
propose question report review suggest state
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