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Intensive English Program Courses: Helpful Sheets and Tutorials

This guide will help you do research and navigate the library

Annotated Bibliography

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography usually consists of a list of citations of sources to be used for research.  After each citation, which has been put into the correct citation style, is a brief paragraph that provides the reader with a summary of the source as well as an evaluation of the argument or thesis of the source.  The paragraph can describe, explain, and/or evaluate the source based on quality of research, authority of the writer, and the relevance to the topic.

Annotated bibliographies can help you with the following:

  • Review literature on a particular topic
  • Illustrate the research you have performed on a topic
  • Provide information on the sources you found
  • Prepare to write on a topic
  1. First, cite each source in the appropriate citation style, MLA Style, for example.  Citations should be in alphabetical order.
  2. Provide a brief (possibly 100 to 200 words) summary paragraph that describes the main thesis or ideas of the source.  Several ideas to think about as you write this summary paragraph about the source:
    1. How is the idea or thesis relevant to your topic?
    2. What are the arguments or discoveries the author made?
    3. What methods or information did the author use to make his/her arguments or discover results?
    4. What was not clear about the author's argument; what further information needed to be explored?
    5. Based upon the author's writing, do you disagree or agree with the thesis and why?

An annotation is not an abstract or summary!

The paragraph you write describes the source and evaluates the source.  Unlike a source's abstract, which is simply a summary that describes the article, the annotated bibliography will go into depth about the value of the resource to your subject.



Elements of an Annotated Bibliography

Information found in an annotation may include:

1. The purpose or scope of the article

Ex: This article sets out to explore how combat trauma affected military veterans when they returned to their countries.

2. Bias or standpoint of author :

Ex: As a military psychologist who specializes in post traumatic stress syndrome, Dr. Doe has to focus on what treatment works best in certain situations.  Therefore, he proposes two different types of treatement.  He believes slow and adaptive therapy works best with military personnel who are returning from combat arenas.  However, Doe's position on active duty personnel differs, because, as he states, a need for personnel retention in combat arenas may supercede slow adaptive therapy.

3. Situate the work with others in your bibliography or in the field

Ex:  Doe's work, contrary to Taylor and Gwen's article on discharging all active personnel that show signs of combat trauma, Doe believes that the military's institution of group therapy as well as regular psychiatric and counseling visits lessens the need to discharge all people with symptoms of stress.  

4. Findings, results, and conclusions (if available)

Ex: Doe's analysis of veterans' surveys before and after treatment indicated that intervention and reintroduction into civilian life worked best against mild symptoms of combat trauma.

5.  Does the author make a valid case? Is the article relevant to the topic?

Ex: While Doe offers very thoroughly investigated information on treating combat trauma with returning personnel, his result data on active personnel did not address the issues of persistant or chronic trauma and the effects of maintaining retention over discharge.


Below is an example of an annotated bibliography

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Ammie E. Harrison
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