Library:How to Write an Annotated Bibliography/Definition

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A bibliography is a list of the works you cited/consulted when writing a paper. An annotated bibliography also includes a brief description of each work in the list - and in many cases, a critical evaluation of its quality. To provide a useful assessment of an article here are some criteria to consider:
  • The purpose and scope of the work
  • A brief description of the format and content
  • A summary of the main arguments
  • The theoretical basis of the argument
  • The author's academic credentials

For an evaluative bibliography:

  • The work's intended audience and reading difficulty
  • The value and significance of the work within the discipline
  • The point of view or perspective from which the work is written
  • Any possible shortcomings or bias in the work
  • Any additional features of the work (eg. glossary, appendices, particularly good index)
  • Your own brief impression of the work

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

A published annotated bibliography helps researchers by identifying what has already been written on a topic. The annotations are very useful in deciding which items to read first, or determining which items are related to each other, etc.

As an assignment in a course, an annotated bibliography has one or more purposes:

  • if the annotated bibliography is part of a larger project it helps you stay on track with your research
  • it demonstrates your ability to select, analyze and evaluate research in a discipline

Check with your instructor to see if you will be required to analyze as well as summarize the works in your list.