Annotated Bibliography

WHAT IS AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.  It is your own description and comments the help explain your reasoning for using a particular source, how the source will further the premise of your essay and the relevance of the source.

 

ANNOTATIONS VS. ABSTRACTS

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author’s point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.

 

THE PROCESS

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style (MLA, APA, CSE, Etc.).  Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

 

Areas to focus on when choosing sources for your Annotated Bibliography include:

  1. Your purpose: What will the source add to the essay? How does it relate to the topic? How will it help establish your credibility?
  2. Relevance: How is the source related to the topic your have chosen?  Be very sure to thoroughly evaluate sources for the content.
  3. Level of quality of the source: Was the source for general audiences or especially for members of a particular field? Is the writer/writers a/an authority on the subject?  Is the language appropriate for a college level essay?
  4. Credentials of the publisher or sponsor: Does the source have clear links to the sponsors or publisher? Is the source from a reputable source or is it suspect in any way? Is the sponsor/publisher professional, academic or governmental?

 

  1. Credentials of the author:  Is the author an expert in his or her field?  If you do a search of the author, is there any questionable information for him or her?
  2. Date of publication: Is the source too old to be relevant or is it appropriate for the essay?  Rapidly changing fields require as up to date material as possible and older material quickly becomes outdated.
  3. Accuracy of the source:  Is the information accurate and representative of the topic?  Misinformation can ruin an otherwise good essay.
  4. Stance of the source:  What is the position of the author of the source?  Does it agree with the one you are trying to convey? Is it fair in its treatment of opposing views?  What is the tone and is it appropriate for the topic?
  5. Cross-references to the source:  Has your source ever been used for other articles?  If so, has it been well used and furthers or hinders its credibility?

 

 

SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE

 

The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.

 

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., &Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.

 

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

 

 

 

 

 

This example uses the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.

 

Waite, Linda J., Frances KobrinGoldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.