Why Write or Use an Annotated Bibliography?
Engaging in research helps you to learn more about a topic, formulate arguments, and support those arguments with evidence. According to UNC Chapel Hill’s Writing Center, Annotated Bibliography guide, creating an annotated bibliography allows you to provide “specific information about each source you have used. As a researcher, you have become an expert on your topic: you have the ability to explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them.”
Please watch this brief video by Brock University Library about annotated bibliographies:
An annotated bibliography allows you to:
- Explain the main points of the source
- Comment on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work pertaining to your specific research or topic
- Analyze the point of view and findings of the source
- Link to or make connections to citations within the source to your research or topic
According to Purdue OWL Annotated Bibliography page, the annotations you write about your sources might take one or more of the following approaches:
Summary: Sometimes you might be asked to just summarize each source. What are the main arguments or main points of the source? What conclusions were drawn? What topics did the author(s) cover? The level of detail required in these types of annotations varies depending on your assignment specifications. No matter what, be sure you don’t just copy the abstract of research articles or a summary of a book that someone else has written; you’ll need to summarize the source in your own words.
For more help, see UNCG Libraries Research module integrating sources in your writing, paraphrasing information.
Evaluation: Evaluating a source goes beyond summary and focuses on the usefulness or appropriateness of a source in your specific research context. Is the source relevant to your research topic? Is it authoritative and credible? To what degree do you see evidence of bias in the source? Why was it created? Again, your assignment should describe the kinds of evaluative questions your annotations should answer, so look at those specifications carefully!
For more help related to source evaluation, see UNCG Libraries Research module on evaluating sources using ABCD and CRAAP.
Reflection: Sources that you’ve effectively summarized and evaluated won’t actually help you that much unless that source actually fits into your research. Consider how relevant the source is to your research topic and whether or not it helps you formulate and support arguments. How can you use this source? What made you choose this specific source? At the risk of sounding repetitive, make sure you consult your assignment requirements to see what kind of reflection you’re expected to do.