As part of your studies at OP you may be asked to write an annotated bibliography as one part of a larger assessment item. This page offers a guide in how to create one.
What is an annotated bibliography?
A bibliography is an alphabetical list, by author, of the sources (books, journals, websites, etc) you have used to research and write your assignment. A bibliography usually includes information such as the author, title, publisher and date. An annotation is a concise summary and/or evaluation of the value or relevance of each source. An annotated bibliography combines these two elements and provides bibliographic information plus a summary and/ or evaluation of each of the sources you have used.
Why do we write annotated bibliographies?
You may be asked to write an annotated bibliography for several reasons:
To provide a review of the literature on your subject
To demonstrate the quality and depth of your reading
To show the scope of sources or research available, e.g. journals, books, websites
To inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy and quality of sources that may be of interest
To explore and organise sources for further research
How to write an annotated bibliography
There are two main sections to each annotated bibliography entry:
The bibliographical information (the reference)
The explanatory paragraphs (the annotation)
Citing or referencing information provides the reader of your bibliography with the following details:
Who wrote or produced the resource
The year when it was written
The title of the book, article, website or video
Where the information is located (in a book, journal article, web site, video)
Publication details (where and when the book was published and who published it)
It also provides evidence of research and makes it possible to revisit sources when writing your research report. When you cite information it is important to present this information consistently.
The annotation should include three parts; a summary section; an evaluation section; and a reflection section.
The summary section
This provides a summary of the research findings or the main arguments or ideas presented by the author, depending on your assessment requirements.
You can use the structure of the article or chapter you are reviewing to structure your annotation.
"This chapter focuses on three issues which are ..."
If the author has a specific purpose behind her/his writing, specify this.
"The author's intention is to present an overview of ..."
If the source is reporting on empirical data, describe the research methods and summarise the results. Give an overview of the general design of the study, e.g. survey, interview; the participants and any limitations of the study, e.g. sample size or geographic area.
The evaluation section
This provides an evaluation of how useful you found the source.
Critique the source – evaluate its reliability or objectivity.
Is the text descriptive or analytical and can you use this in your evaluation?
"Although an interesting chapter, it is mainly descriptive and doesn’t discuss options for prevention or treatment"
Look for evidence the author may have used to support his or her ideas.
"The author supports this claim with statistics from the World Health Organization"
The reflection section
This provides a reflection of how you used the source in your research.
How useful was this source in my research? Did it add to my understanding of the topic? Was it easy to read?
"Although the guidelines on this website for infection control are very detailed, they are written in plain English and clearly articulate the message of thorough hand washing as the main defense against the spread of germs."
Are there any useful references to follow up? How could other researchers use this source?
"While the focus of this chapter was very broad, the authors supply some useful references for readers to pursue for more specific information."
Checklist for an annotated bibliography
This work includes material from the following sources:
Annotated Bibliography. Information Literacy e-Learning Modules. Online Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://oil.otago.ac.nz/oil/module2.html Collaborative project between the University of Otago, Dunedin College of Education and Otago Polytechnic.