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CITING SOURCES RESEARCH GUIDE: Annotated Bibliographies

This guide provides information on citing your sources in some of the most commonly used citation formats: APA, MLA, ASA and Chicago.

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

Annotation - Example

Example of an Annotated Bibliography entry - MLA:

Park, Jie Y. "Becoming Academically Literate." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,

vol. 57, no. 4, 2013, pp. 298-306.

Park’s article is unique in that she is writing in the U.S., but her case study is focused on the journey of an African immigrant to literacy.  She draws on Geisler’s definition of AL as expertise through learning the ways of the academy model. Park is using literacy in the singular, as a point of accomplishment  Within her case study, she recognizes how Tara (her case study student) enacts identity and joins a community of practice, as well as how Tara responds to specific “literacy events” (301 – from Heath 1983) as she interacts with texts or language.

Park uses this case study to point out differences between Tara’s learning in Africa vs. what she is experiencing within the U.S., noting how a “dual frame of reference” is needed for students to be able to navigate different disciplines’ writing assignments and form her identity as part of her acculturation (304). Park uses academic literacies in one of the more frequent ways I’ve seen it applied in US – that of second-language learning – bringing students “into” the academy from socialization and skills’ deficit approaches.  She is using the first two of Lea & Street’s three approaches, but aligning them together into academic literacy; however, she is not drawing in any of the multimodal aspects or advanced metacognitive elements that scaffold to the third approach as a separate learning stage, as opposed to just the umbrella term for the two lower-tiered approaches of skill-building and socialization.

[Additional Annotation Examples]

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. Annotations should offer a summary of the material as well as critical comments. Critical comments can be supported by comparison to other research or knowledge about the topic. Annotations typically 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

Can an annotated bibliography help me with my research?

They provide readers with background information about your sources, who then may want to consult those sources. Annotations are a great way to help organize your research as you critically evaluate books, journal articles, web sites and other resources.

How do I start writing an annotated bibliography?

It is most useful to begin your annotated bibliography when you begin your research. You can decide from the start which sources are relevant for your research. As you read your material, identify the author(s) argument, main thesis, take notes, and make a brief outline of what you have read.

How do I format an annotated bibliography?

Write the citations -- they are the same with or without annotations in each of the citation styles. 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. Every sentence should convey relevant information and depending on the requirements of your assignment, the annotation length and contents may vary.

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