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Annotated Bibliography Guide - Pathways and Learning Support: Creating an annotated bibliography

Find out what an annotated bibliography is and how to write one

Creating an annotated bibliography

First:  locate academic sources on your particular topic. Refer to your course outline and lecture notes for suggested readings. Use the library to search for additional academic sources. You should aim to cover a range of different perspectives on your topic, so collect a number of different sources. Check the number of sources required for your assessment task.

Second: Note the complete bibliographic details for your chosen texts, in the appropriate referencing style. This will be your citation.

Third: Read and take notes, paying attention to the author's main points and findings, the methodology and scope of their research, and the author's position. These notes will form the basis of your summary.

  • Ask questions as you read and write your answers as notes. How well does this text address your topic? Does it cover the topic thoroughly or just one aspect of it? Do the research methods seem appropriate? Does it agree with or contradict other writings on the same topic? How is it useful for your purposes? These notes will form the basis of your evaluation.

Finally: Write your annotation using the following structure as a guide.

An annotated bibliography has four key components:

1. Reference: The first part of the annotation is a full citation for the source you are reviewing. Check the referencing style required (e.g APA, Harvard, MLA) and use a style guide to make sure you write the citation in the correct format.

2. Describe: The first few sentences of your annotated bibliography should introduce the source by including a description and summary of the text. This information could include:

  • what type of source it is (i.e. a literature review, a journal article, a chapter from a book)
  • who the author/s are and what their position is. This can be helpful in establishing the credibility of the author/s.
  • what key topics, findings and information the source offers.
  • what evidence or research the source uses to establish its argument or support the key ideas being presented.

3. Evaluate: The next section of the annotation should provide an evaluation of the source; this allows you to demonstrate your critical analysis skills. You could comment on:

  • any weaknesses or strengths
  • whether the research methodology is appropriate to the study
  • if the research is limited, or provides a thorough examination and collection of evidence on the topic
  • are there any biases or unsubstantiated results presented

4. Link: The final component of an annotation will make clear connections between the source and other aspects of your study.

  • What does the source contribute to your understanding of the topic?
  • How useful is it to your own purpose, research and learning?
  • Are there any connections between this source and other research on the topic? What is significant about these connections?