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How to Deal with Annotated Bibliography

In academic writing, the annotated bibliography is defined as the paper that summarizes the research that has been done on a certain topic. This is the list of sources that provide their brief description. The list is organized in a particular order (alphabetically or chronologically) which looks similar to references. The bibliography is likely followed by a short annotation (200 words) and summarizes the book, article or website describing it purely. So what are the main goals and concepts of the annotation bibliography?

Goals and Structure

Annotation can be descriptive, evaluative and critical. Depending on the requirements of your assignment, it may have the following purposes:

  1. Provide a literature review on the given topic;
  2. Describe interesting items pointed by other researchers;
  3. Help create a thesis on this subject;
  4. Give examples of valuable information sources;
  5. Demonstrate the results of your research.

Here are some useful tips that refer to your assignment requirements. The possible variations may be the following:

  • You may need to only summarize but not evaluate the topic (book, article etc.);
  • You need to comment on similarities and differences of the sources or consider each source separately;
  • You need to organize the annotation if it is too long (use categories, sections etc.);
  • You may be required to write a brief paragraph and explain the scope of your research and why you chose these sources.

The requirements may be different so it is important to read all of them before writing.

Types of Annotations

There are basically two main types of annotated bibliographies: descriptive/informative and critical/analytical. How do they differ from each other?

  1. Descriptive (also called informative) annotated bibliography gives a short description or summary of the source and explains why it would be useful to read and how valuable it is in general. It provides the reader with the main arguments the author used and also results;
  2. Critical (also called analytical) annotated bibliography gives deep analysis and summary of the source. It points out its strong and weak sides and examines the conclusions once the research is done.

In general, for annotated bibliography writing you will use critical/analytical type.

How to Get Started

When you are ready for writing your own annotated bibliography, first choose the sources (obviously). It requires doing the research and finding the sources and materials which may be applied to your topic. Then, review the information you gathered: choose the ones which give several perspectives on the subject. Now you can write the annotation: first comes complete citation and it is followed by the annotation.

Depending on the type of bibliography you may add such points as:

  • The purpose;
  • The audience type;
  • Unique features;
  • Strong and weak sides;
  • The summary.

Writing an annotated bibliography, pay special attention to the sources and the way you organize them in your paper. Stick to the formal style that is used in academic writing and express your thoughts clearly and easy to understand for the reader. Try to avoid slang, jargon and informal vocabulary but at the same time do not overload the readers with specific technical terms. Proofread your paper at the end and make sure that punctuation and grammar are correct.