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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: 5g. Annotated Bibliographies

How to do research

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a descriptive summary and/or evaluation.

Sometimes the annotation will reflect the applicability of the source to the needs of the researcher. 

The purpose of this type of bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

An annonation may include some or all of these parts: 

  • a citation to the source 
  • qualifications of the author(s)
  • purpose or scope of the work
  • topics covered
  • summary of findings or conclusions
  • audience or reading level
  • bias or standpoint of author(s)
  • relationship to works in the field
  • format/special features
  • relevance to your own research

Example

Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968.

This book is part of a series called "Twentieth Century American Writers": a Brief Introduction to the Man and his Work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There's an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.

Example borrowed from the Writing Center at UNC- Chapel Hill.

An additional example can be found in Diane Hacker's
MLA Annotated Bibliography.
(PDF)

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Below are the most common types of annotated bibliographies:

  • Indicative:  Provides general information about the scope of the work and topics covered.
  • Informative: Provides a summary of the work.
  • Evaluative / Critical: Critcally evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the source and/or its author. Explains how the source may be useful to a particular field of study or personal research.
  • Combination: Uses a combination of some or all of the types mentioned above.

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