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BIOL 199 - Using Library Resources: Annotated Bibliographies

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

What is an Annotated Bibliography? from Kimbel Library on Vimeo. Credits: John Watts and Joshua Vossler, Script; Tim Hodge, Editor

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Writing an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

It is a bibliography in which you include a short summary or abstract of sources you are thinking of using for a paper. It is more than a works cited list, which gives only a bibliographic citation for the source. These annotations do one or more of the following:

  • Describe the content and focus of the book, article or web site
  • Suggest the source's usefulness to your research
  • Evaluate the source's method, conclusions or reliability
  • Record your reactions to the source

Why write an annotated bibliography?

They provide readers with background information about your sources, who then may want to consult those sources. It's a great way to organize your research by helping you critically evaluate books, journal articles, web sites and other resources.

How do I go about starting this bibliography?

You should begin your annotated bibliography when you begin your research. This enables you to decide from the start which sources are appropriate for your study. As you read your material, you should identify the thesis statement, take notes, and make a brief outline of what you have read.

How do I format an annotated bibliography?

Just write the bibliographic entries as you would write any other bibliography, according to the style your instructor wishes. Check Citing Sources of information for the various style guides. The annotation starts beneath the citation, but you will need to check the style manual for specifics on form, spacing and consistency.

How do I write an annotation? What's included?

You should include one or two sentences summarizing or describing content and one or two sentences providing an evaluation. In evaluation, tell how the source is interesting or helpful to you, or why it is not. List what kind of and how much information is given.

How should I format sentences in an annotation?

Whole sentences are preferable and at times very concise sentences and simple phrases could be acceptable. Sentence length should vary to avoid short, choppy sentences. Every sentence should convey a maximum amount of information in a minimum number of words. Annotations should be 1-3 paragraphs long. Annotations should offer a summary of the material as well as critical comments. Critical comments should be supported by personal argument or knowledge.

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From the Boatwright Memorial Library's Citing Sources Research Guide.