An annotated bibliography is a bibliography where references are given annotations or notes. There are generally four types of annotations -
- Descriptive annotations that describe the work
- Summary annotations that provide a summary of the key points of a particular work
- Critical annotations which evaluate where the work fits or doesn't fit within your research topic
- Combined annotations which use all or some of the above styles.
Depending on your assignment you may be asked to reflect, summarise, critique, evaluate or analyse the source. You may be asked to find to search for a specific number of items to include in the annotated bibliography. These items are most commonly refereed or peer reviewed journal articles but can include book chapters, books, conference papers and other information sources. You may be asked to write an annotated bibliography as a stand alone assignment or as a component of a larger project.
Questions to consider
You need to consider carefully the texts that you select for your annotated bibliography. Keep the following questions in mind to help clarify your choices.
- What topic/ problem am I investigating?
- What question(s) am I exploring? Identify the aim of your literature research.
- What kind of material am I looking at and why? Am I looking for journal articles, reports, policies or primary historical data?
- Am I being judicious in my selection of texts? Does each text relate to my research topic and assignment requirements?
What are the essential or key texts on my topic? Am I finding them? Are the sources valuable or often referred to in other texts?
Which writing style should I use in the annotations?
- Each annotation should be concise. Do not write too much—remember, you are writing a summary, not an essay. Annotations should not extend beyond one paragraph unless otherwise stipulated in your assignment guidelines. As this is not an extended piece of writing, only mention significant and relevant details.
- Any information apparent in the title of the text or journal can be omitted from the annotation.
- Background materials and references to previous work by the same author usually are not included. As you are addressing one text at a time, there is no need to cross reference or use in-text citations to support your annotation.
- Unless otherwise stipulated, you should write in full sentences using academic vocabulary.
Further Reading : University Of New South Wales Annotated Bibliography