How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

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Sample Annotations


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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.

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

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

More Sample Annotations

  • ​​ Annotated Bibliography Examples
  • ​ Annotated Bibliography Samples

The University of Toronto offers  an example  that illustrates how to summarize a study's research methods and argument.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland presents  these examples of both descriptive and critical annotations.

The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin gives examples  of the some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies.

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina gives examples of several different forms of annotated bibliographies in 3 popular citation formats: 

  • MLA Example
  • APA Example
  • CBE Example

This page was adapted with permission from the following:

How to prepare an annotated bibliography Research & Learning Services Olin Library Cornell University Library  Ithaca, NY, USA

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Writing annotations.

  • Introduction
  • New RefWorks
  • Formatting Citations
  • Sample Annotated Bibliographies

An annotation is a brief note following each citation listed on an annotated bibliography.  The goal is to briefly summarize the source and/or explain why it is important for a topic.  They are typically a single concise paragraph, but might be longer if you are summarizing and evaluating.

Annotations can be written in a variety of different ways and it’s important to consider the style you are going to use.  Are you simply summarizing the sources, or evaluating them?  How does the source influence your understanding of the topic?  You can follow any style you want if you are writing for your own personal research process, but consult with your professor if this is an assignment for a class.

Annotation Styles

  • Combined Informative/Evaluative Style - This style is recommended by the library as it combines all the styles to provide a more complete view of a source.  The annotation should explain the value of the source for the overall research topic by providing a summary combined with an analysis of the source.  

Aluedse, O. (2006). Bullying in schools: A form of child abuse in schools.  Educational Research Quarterly ,  30 (1), 37.

The author classifies bullying in schools as a “form of child abuse,” and goes well beyond the notion that schoolyard bullying is “just child’s play.” The article provides an in-depth definition of bullying, and explores the likelihood that school-aged bullies may also experience difficult lives as adults. The author discusses the modern prevalence of bullying in school systems, the effects of bullying, intervention strategies, and provides an extensive list of resources and references.

Statistics included provide an alarming realization that bullying is prevalent not only in the United States, but also worldwide. According to the author, “American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims.” The author references the National Association of School Psychologists and quotes, “Thus, one in seven children is a bully or a target of bullying.” A major point of emphasis centers around what has always been considered a “normal part of growing up” versus the levels of actual abuse reached in today’s society.

The author concludes with a section that addresses intervention strategies for school administrators, teachers, counselors, and school staff. The concept of school staff helping build students’ “social competence” is showcased as a prevalent means of preventing and reducing this growing social menace. Overall, the article is worthwhile for anyone interested in the subject matter, and provides a wealth of resources for researching this topic of growing concern.

(Renfrow & Teuton, 2008)

  • Informative Style -  Similar to an abstract, this style focuses on the summarizing the source.  The annotation should identify the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source.

Plester, B., Wood, C, & Bell, V. (2008). Txt msg n school literacy: Does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children's literacy attainment? Literacy , 42(3), 137-144.

Reports on two studies that investigated the relationship between children's texting behavior, their knowledge of text abbreviations, and their school attainment in written language skills. In Study One, 11 to 12 year-old children reported their texting behavior and translated a standard English sentence into a text message and vice versa. In Study Two, children's performance on writing measures were examined more specifically, spelling proficiency was also assessed, and KS2 Writing scores were obtained. Positive correlations between spelling ability and performance on the translation exercise were found, and group-based comparisons based on the children's writing scores also showed that good writing attainment was associated with greater use of texting abbreviations (textisms), although the direction of this association is not clear. Overall, these findings suggest that children's knowledge of textisms is not associated with poor written language outcomes for children in this age range. 

(Beach et al., 2009)

  • Evaluative Style - This style analyzes and critically evaluates the source.  The annotation should comment on the source's the strengths, weaknesses, and how it relates to the overall research topic.

Amott, T. (1993). Caught in the Crisis: Women in the U.S. Economy Today . New York: Monthly Review Press.

A very readable (140 pp) economic analysis and information book which I am currently considering as a required collateral assignment in Economics 201. Among its many strengths is a lucid connection of "The Crisis at Home" with the broader, macroeconomic crisis of the U.S. working class (which various other authors have described as the shrinking middle class or the crisis of de-industrialization).

(Papadantonakis, 1996)

  • Indicative Style - This style of annotation identifies the main theme and lists the significant topics included in the source.  Usually no specific details are given beyond the topic list . 


Gambell, T.J., & Hunter, D. M. (1999). Rethinking gender differences in literacy. Canadian Journal of Education , 24(1) 1-16.

Five explanations are offered for recently assessed gender differences in the literacy achievement of male and female students in Canada and other countries. The explanations revolve around evaluative bias, home socialization, role and societal expectations, male psychology, and equity policy.

(Kerka & Imel, 2004)

Beach, R., Bigelow, M., Dillon, D., Dockter, J., Galda, L., Helman, L., . . . Janssen, T. (2009). Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English.  Research in the Teaching of English,   44 (2), 210-241. Retrieved from

Kerka, S., & Imel, S. (2004). Annotated bibliography: Women and literacy.  Women's Studies Quarterly,  32 (1), 258-271. Retrieved from

Papadantonakis, K. (1996). Selected Annotated Bibliography for Economists and Other Social Scientists.  Women's Studies Quarterly,   24 (3/4), 233-238. Retrieved from

Renfrow, T.G., & Teuton, L.M. (2008). Schoolyard bullying: Peer victimization an annotated bibliography. Community & Junior College Libraries, 14(4), 251-­275. doi:10.1080/02763910802336407

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BIO181: General Biology (Alu Sequences)

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Sample Annotated Papers

  • Dosage compensation via transposable element mediated rewiring of a regulatory network
  • BRCA1 tumor suppression depends on BRCT phosphoprotein binding, but not its E3 ligase activity
  • The mutagenic chain reaction: A method for converting heterozygous to homozygous mutations

Components of Scientific Research Articles


Steps to Annotating A Scientific Paper

  • Locate each of the components (Abstract, Introduction, etc.)
  • Identify unfamiliar words in these sections that are important to understanding the research.
  • Define the unfamiliar words. Use Google or Credo Reference dictionaries.  Try NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  or Scitable Glossary from Nature .  
  • Annotate each section by summarizing the main idea or paraphrasing important sentences.  Write to an audience of first-year college students.

Science in the Classroom

Science in the Classroom (SitC) features annotated  research articles published in the  Science  family of journals. SitC uses 7 categories of annotations, each called a "LEARNING LENS" - - Glossary, Previous work [Introduction], Author's experiments [Methods], Results and Conclusions, News and policy links, Learning standards, and References and notes.   Click on each LEARNING LENS to turn annotations on and off.  Figures in the papers also have tabs with more detailed explanations to help the reader.

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What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to sources, such as books and articles. Each citation is followed by an annotation, a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, about 150 words long, that analyzes the source. An annotated bibliography usually looks like any other bibliography with alphabetized citations of sources, except that here each source is followed by an explanatory paragraph. This work can form the basis of a literature review later in the writing process. The purpose of the annotation is to inform on the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

What isn't an annotated bibliography?

An annotation is not only a summary of the source in question. It should be a short but critical analysis as to why and how the source fits into the larger research question. An abstract functions as a summary, an annotation should be contextual to the specific topic at hand. It should be both descriptive and evaluative. 

Types of annotations:

  • Descriptive : states the topic of the source only
  • Evaluative : evaluates the source, which may include placing the work in context of other research or evaluating its usefulness. This is the type expected for most research assignments. 
  • Summary : summarizes the source but does not take a stance or make an argument about the source.

What about formatting?

Most of the major citation styles call for a  hanging first line  on annotated bibliographies. This means the first line of the citation will align with the left margin of the page, and all subsequent lines of the citation and annotation will indent to the right.

Example of an Annotated Citation using the Ecology Journal Style

Patra, A., T. Park, M. Kim, and Z. Yu. 2017. "Rumen Methanogens and Mitigation Of Methane Emission by Anti-Methanogenic Compounds and Substances."  Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 8 :13.

This study reviews some of the work to date (2017) identifying ruminal methanogens and the in vivo and in vitro effects of anti-methanogenic compounds. Of specific interest is the summary of evidence suggesting that archaea make up only ~10% of the ruminal microbiome (see "Overview of methanogens present in the rumen"). Also of note, this paper cites work indicating many rumen ciliate protozoa have ecto- and endo-associated methanogenic archaea (see "Methanogens associated with rumen protozoa"). However, most ruminal methanogens are "free-living" (i.e. not protozoa-associated; see "Free-living ruminal methanogens").

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What is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.

Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles.  The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.

Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:

  •     Main focus or purpose of the work
  •     Usefulness or relevance to your research topic 
  •     Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
  •     Background and credibility of the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by you

Annotations versus Abstracts

Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article.  This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation.  The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

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Annotated Bibliography Guide: Sample Annotated Bibliographies

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Sample Bibliographies


The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation. NOTE: APA requires double spacing within citations.

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.

  • Sample Annotated Bibliography from Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences From Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
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What is an Annotated Bibliography or a research annotation

What is an Annotated Bibliography (AB)?

An annotated bibliography (AB) is a list of citations (journal articles, books, etc) where each citation is followed by a brief (about 120-150 words) evaluative and descriptive paragraph of the article (i.e. a summary of the research article in your own words). The purpose of annotating is for the reader to get the "gist" of the article by reading this one paragraph . I recommend that in your paragraph(s) [i.e., annotation] you expose the author's point of view , key findings , and show how their work is relevant (e.g., strengthens, has opposing views, complements, provides a new perspective) to your topic. As you build your AB ask yourself: (a) is the article/source adding information to your topic , (b) is it contradicting or confirming ideas you may have read previously about , (c) is it a new source , (d) is the author an authority in the area (e.g., published a lot in good journals)? Asking these questions will help you put together a succint annotated bibliography that will later provide key information to put your presentation together. It will also save you: (a) time , since recalling what the article is about will be easier after reading other papers for your topic, and (b) reduce the chances of word-for-word plagiarism because the summary will be in your words (you will still need an in-text citation though).

In general: summarize , assess and reflect on the work you are reading. By doing this you are engaging in the analysis of the article in meaningful ways- it will pay off later when you put your presentation or article together.

FYI: An annotated bibliography is NOT a copy of the ABSTRACT but it can be seen as your first step towards a REVIEW of THE LITERATURE in your selected topic.

For more details on Annotated Bibliographies check out the resources below.


Purdue:  (Direct LINK )

University of Wisconsin:

Literature Review

What is a literature Review? How is this different or the same as a review paper?

A literature review can be: (a) a simple summary of the sources in a narrow topic within a subject area of interest or (b) it can be an organized summary and synthesis of the same topic/subject in the form of a paper. Some literature reviews, if standalone, could become review papers or survey papers. The latter usually relatet papers to one another, present what is the most important things in the field at present and perhaps provides future directions of work in such a field. These papers usually are longer and may have thousands of references associated to them.

Another way of thinking about this is that if the literature review is part of a "thesis or dissertation", it helps provide a context for the research and has less references than an actual review paper. However, if this review is a standalone paper that helps synthesize and summarize information in that particular (subject/field) then we could argue that it is a review paper or survey paper.

What is the Literature Review?

  • Literature Review (Part 1)
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  • Scientific Primary Sources

Example Annotated Bibliography

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What is an Annotated Biblography?

A list of resources such as books, articles, Web sites, and documents. The entries in an annotated bibliography consist of a citation and a short descriptive and evaluative paragraph, which is the annotation. Annotated are used to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy and the choice of resources used by the writer.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Why can't I just copy the abstract? An abstract describes the the content of the article. Annotations have a descriptive and critial tone. They should relate to the author's point of view and authority of the resource.

How do I Write an Annotation?

The annotation should be concise and provide a brief analysis of the resource.

Locate the item and note the information needed to cite the book, article, Web site or document in the correct style for your subject. You should review the actual resources. Choose the resources that provide a variety of perspective on your topic.

Write a short entry that summarizes the major theme and scope of the work. You should quote one or more passages or quotes that provide an evaluation of the authority of the author, what type of audience the resources is intended for, and compare and contrast the material or with other resources you have included in your annotated bibliography.  You should also explain how this resource will be viable to your research topic.

Sample Annotated Bibliography

The following entries are adapted from a bibliography prepared by Susan Grujevski for her paper “How successfully did Natalie Davis interpret the "hidden world of peasant sentiment and aspiration" in Martin Guerre?”  The citations follow the style of the examples in Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. The citations are formated using the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition.

BOOK Example:

Davis, Natalie Zemon. The Return of Martin Guerre . Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.

            This narrative is the main focus of my argument.  A valuable contribution to the understanding of the Martin Guerre story, with considerable detail and               references to ambiguities which create a large number of interesting and innovative approaches to the study of sixteenth-century French peasantry.


Davis, Natalie Zemon. “On the Lame.” American Historical Review 93, no.3 (1988): 572-603.

              In this article, Davis thoroughly defends her interpretation of the Martin Guerre story, outlining the reasoning behind her approaches, and contributing                       more complexity to her characterizations.  This article informed much of my approach to Davis’ interpretation.

Pringle, Helen and Elizabeth W. Prior. “Inventing Martin Guerre: An Interview with Natalie Zemon Davis.” Southern Review 19, no. 3 (1986): 229-241.

             Davis makes clear her intentions to depict the story of Martin Guerre as one revealing many ambiguities.  A notable element of this interview was                  the influence on Davis when observing Gerard Depardieu assume his role for the movie.  Entertaining to read Davis’ thoughts in the form of an                 interview, expressed in a simple and direct manner, which assisted my understanding of her approaches to The Return of Martin Guerre.  

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Annotated primary scientific literature: A pedagogical tool for undergraduate courses

Affiliations Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, United States of America, STEM Transformation Institute, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, United States of America

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* E-mail: [email protected]

  • Matthew Kararo, 
  • Melissa McCartney


Published: January 9, 2019

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Fig 1

Annotated primary scientific literature is a teaching and learning resource that provides scaffolding for undergraduate students acculturating to the authentic scientific practice of obtaining and evaluating information through the medium of primary scientific literature. Utilizing annotated primary scientific literature as an integrated pedagogical tool could enable more widespread use of primary scientific literature in undergraduate science classrooms with minimal disruption to existing syllabi. Research is ongoing to determine an optimal implementation protocol, with these preliminary iterations presented here serving as a first look at how students respond to annotated primary scientific literature. The undergraduate biology student participants in our study did not, in general, have an abundance of experience reading primary scientific literature; however, they found the annotations useful, especially for vocabulary and graph interpretation. We present here an implementation protocol for using annotated primary literature in the classroom that minimizes the use of valuable classroom time and requires no additional pedagogical training for instructors.

Citation: Kararo M, McCartney M (2019) Annotated primary scientific literature: A pedagogical tool for undergraduate courses. PLoS Biol 17(1): e3000103.

Copyright: © 2019 Kararo, McCartney. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This research was supported through National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education 1525596 (MM) and Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences & Education Postdoctoral Fellowship (MM and MK). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Abbreviations: CREATE, consider, read, elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, and think of the next experiment; FIU, Florida International University; SitC, Science in the Classroom; STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math; TOSLS, Test of Scientific Literacy Skills

Provenance: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

A major output of public research universities is primary scientific literature, in addition to educating students and conferring degrees. It is imperative for researchers and universities to increase the transparency and outreach of the primary research literature they produce. However, most primary scientific literature remains unknown and/or inaccessible to the public, because it is published in journals targeting academics in the same field and is often placed behind journal paywalls [ 1 ].

Public research universities also have a responsibility to produce scientifically literate graduates [ 2 , 3 ]. Many students graduate without an understanding of scientific practices and an acculturation to interpreting scientific communication, especially primary scientific literature [ 4 , 5 ]. One way to potentially improve scientific literacy overall and develop specific skills, such as interpreting scientific communication, is to incorporate primary scientific literature into the undergraduate curricula and provide pedagogical tools that may help bridge the divide between everyday language and the language used by experts [ 6 – 11 ].

The study of primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool in undergraduate biology courses has led to innovative approaches. The most well-known of these may be the Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, and Think of the next Experiment (CREATE) method, in which faculty redesign their existing courses around primary scientific literature in order to provide an intensive and comprehensive analysis of primary scientific literature for undergraduates [ 6 , 12 – 14 ]. Although this type of a semester-long innovative elective course provided student benefits, adding an entire course to a degree sequence may prove difficult and by definition, does not impact students that choose not to include them in an already credit-crunched plan of study. This credit-crunch is especially prevalent at institutions such as the one in this study, Florida International University (FIU), where any additional credit hours are charged at out-of-state tuition rates. Therefore, it would benefit biology education, and biology as a field of study, to develop innovative ways to utilize primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool, ideally with a minimal impact to existing plans of study and time investment from course instructors.

A growing body of research shows that less-intensive interventions using primary scientific literature can be valuable and useful in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, with the greatest amount of research happening at the undergraduate level. Programs include journal clubs, data and figure exploration, and tutorials on how to read primary scientific literature [ 15 – 17 ]. Assessment tools used to evaluate these interventions are equally as diverse, ranging from rubrics to validated surveys [ 18 , 19 ].

Annotated primary scientific literature

Annotated primary scientific literature is designed to help readers interpret complex science by overlaying additional information on a scientific research article. Preserving the original text and its context is what makes annotated primary scientific research literature unique from other genres that modify or rewrite the original text. This preservation is the key difference between annotated primary scientific literature and adapted primary literature, an approach that takes portions of primary scientific literature and rewrites the original content to turn them into pedagogical tools [ 20 ]. Science in the Classroom (SitC; ) is a highly developed and sophisticated example of annotated primary scientific literature that we decided has potential for classroom pedagogical use.

SitC, a collection of freely available annotated papers, aims to make primary scientific research literature more accessible to students and educators. The repository of annotated primary scientific literature articles is accessible to educators and searchable by keyword, classified by topics, and grouped in collections. The process of reading and deconstructing scientific literature in undergraduate courses has been shown to result in students potentially gaining an understanding of scientific practices, such as how scientists design their experiments and present their results, essentially allowing students to experience the logic behind drawing conclusions from a set of data [ 6 , 7 , 12 – 14 ].

Annotated primary scientific literature uses the original text of research articles along with a “Learning Lens” overlay, designed to provide students tools to use for interpretation. The “Learning Lens” is used to selectively highlight different parts of the text and is composed of seven headings: Glossary, Previous work, Author's experiments, Conclusions, News and policy links, Connect to learning standards, and References and notes, which are color-coded to match the corresponding text of the research article. For example, an annotated glossary term, when clicked on, will produce a pop-up box containing the definition of the word ( Fig 1 ). Annotations contained within the “Learning Lens” have been designed to be at the reading comprehension level of a first-year undergraduate student, and ongoing evaluation efforts have provided evidence that this goal is being met [ 21 ].


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Annotated primary literature as a pedagogical tool

Annotations provide an educational scaffold that could help students become more comfortable with reading scientific papers. We propose annotated primary scientific literature as an example of a resource that can be incorporated into existing courses and provide scaffolding that may help undergraduate students develop skills necessary to read primary scientific literature while requiring a minimal time investment from instructors. Using annotated primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool not only could potentially help universities develop scientifically literate graduates, but it may also broaden the impact of primary scientific research literature produced by faculty.

The previously mentioned pedagogical tools and curriculum transformations can require a substantial investment of time and effort from the university, faculty, and staff. Therefore, additional tools and opportunities should be considered in order to achieve a wider variety of complementary opportunities for teaching with authentic scientific practices and engaging students in reading primary scientific literature [ 22 ]. We hypothesize that the incorporation of annotated primary scientific literature in the classroom represents one of these opportunities.

In this pilot study, we had a goal of developing an implementation protocol that could incorporate annotated primary scientific literature into undergraduate courses with a minimal time investment for instructors and minimal disruption and alteration to existing courses and plans of study.

Implementation of annotated primary scientific literature

All data were collected in accordance with an approved FIU Institutional Review Board protocol #17–0398 and #17–0105. Our initial attempts to develop an implementation protocol for using annotated primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool had the educational goal of introducing students to the “Learning Lens” annotations and observing how instructors and students used the tool. Initial attempts to incorporate annotated primary scientific literature focused on undergraduate biology courses at FIU, including General Biology II, Ecology, and Plant Life History. The implementation sessions were run iteratively during the same semester, ensuring that students did not overlap, and each class had only one implementation session. We describe two variations of our implementations here.

Students involved in the study self-reported their major, with 76% being biology majors. We did not collect any data on students’ prior knowledge of biology, but the majority of students in these classes are first- or second-year students.

We used the same annotated piece of primary scientific literature for all in-class activities described in this study: “Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator's memory of reward” ( ). We chose an article that incorporated many different aspects of biology, including evolution, ecosystem interactions, basic botany, learning and memory, and animal behavior in a single study, making this paper applicable in a wide variety of undergraduate courses.

The objectives were to introduce undergraduate students to annotated primary scientific literature and collect baseline data on how students interacted with the annotations themselves. The first implementation involved a one-time intervention, connected to the student’s coursework, conducted by the researchers and began with an approximately 5-minute orientation to annotated primary scientific literature. This orientation included how to use the “Learning Lens” and a brief overview of the importance of primary scientific literature. Students were then given 20 minutes to read the selected piece of annotated primary scientific literature. At the 20-minute time point, a Qualtrics (online survey software; Provo, Utah and Seattle, Washington) link was provided, and if they were done reading, students could begin answering the feedback questionnaire. Students were given an additional 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Collecting and analyzing this first round of pilot data allowed for reflection on opportunities for iterative improvement.

In addition to the questionnaire data, feedback was collected through in-class activity observations conducted by the researchers. We kept detailed field notes indicating when students appeared on task, i.e., independently interacting with annotated primary scientific literature. We also noted when alternative tasks were observed, i.e., students checking email or social media, and when task completion appeared to have occurred. During the implementation, our in-class observations estimated an average time on task, i.e., interacting with annotated primary scientific literature, to be 10 minutes, because there was a noticeable increase in classroom noise after this time point. We confirmed this by using Adobe Analytics (Adobe, San Jose, California), which measures the time spent on a website by each user. We measured an average time spent on annotated primary scientific literature of 13 minutes. Due to limitations of Adobe Analytics, we are unable to collect individual data points and were limited to an aggregate average for the entire class. Note that the difference between the observed time spent on the activity and the digital measure can be explained by Adobe Analytics averaging all participants’ time spent on the article page.

The main student feedback was collected through a questionnaire containing both quantitative (content questions) and qualitative items (i.e., “what did you like about this activity?”). One of the key ideas we garnered from the qualitative data was that a one-time intervention was perceived by students as somewhat discordant when a connection between the article they read and the content they were covering at the time in their course was not made explicit by their course instructor ( Table 1 ).


When asked if the topic of the paper related to their course, students in this iteration gave feedback such as this activity was “only slightly relevant to the course,” and “no, we[‘re] studying plants” despite the article being explicitly about caffeine production by plants in order to attract pollinators. Additionally, we were uncertain that we had connected with the students as researchers in the same way as the instructor with whom the students had built a relationship.

Although some students may have not perceived a connection between the article content and their course content, in general, students found the annotations useful, especially regarding graphs and vocabulary interpretation. Examples of student responses can be seen in Table 2 .


For our second iteration, we decided to address the issues of students feeling discordant by having the course instructors introduce the article and annotated primary scientific literature activity themselves. Additionally, we asked instructors to explicitly connect the annotated paper to current course content. With both of these procedures in place, the average time students engaged with the annotated article, as measured by Adobe Analytics, increased to 19 minutes ( Fig 2 ).


This new implementation, in which the instructor introduced the piece of annotated primary scientific literature and annotated primary scientific literature activity, not only appeared to increase the time that students engaged with the material, but it also removed the manpower requirement for the researchers to be present in every classroom in order to describe and implement the activity. This could allow for a more widespread implementation of annotated primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool. It was also apparent that students introduced to the activity by their course instructor were more readily able to recognize the connections between reading primary scientific research literature and their course content, which can be seen in student responses in Table 3 .


When asked if the topic of the paper related to their course, students in this iteration stated “This article related to 3 different courses I am taking this semester,” “yes it most certainly did,” “yes! We’re learning about pollination,” and that “…scientific papers on new experiments …are important.”

During the initial iterations of the implementation protocol, students read the annotated articles and completed an assessment during class time. However, a growing concern was feasibility of an in-class assignment due to the time requirement and allowing for instructor flexibility in scheduling. While observing a senior lecturer at FIU, who was not involved in this current study, and his existing implementation method of students reading primary scientific literature as homework and answering iClicker questions at the beginning of the following class, the researchers noticed an increased enthusiasm among the students during the class discussion. Supporting this observation, the history of research on the use of clickers in the classroom shows an increase in feelings of class involvement [ 23 ] and learning gains in students [ 24 ]. Because of the observations and support from instructors, the decision was made to adopt the homework protocol moving forward with future implementations. The homework protocol allows for more instructor freedom in selecting articles relevant to course content, reduces the class time required for implementation, and separates content questions from a pre–post attitude and motivation questionnaire. Using articles as homework also allows for instructors to utilize as many articles as they wish, but for this project moving forward, in future implementations, we will require a minimum of three articles over the course of a semester. We are currently piloting an implementation protocol using annotated primary scientific literature as a homework assignment and are excited to see how instructors and students use annotated primary scientific literature moving forward.

Advice to others

In the ongoing iterative development of an implementation protocol for annotated primary scientific literature, the most fruitful exercise has been reflection. This is great practice for any educator or educational researcher during the curriculum or pedagogical tool development process. Reflection on early classroom implementations helped us identify the opportunities for improvement in our subsequent protocol iterations and allowed us to make modifications based upon quantitative, qualitative, and observational data. One example of changes coming from reflection was noticing that during an implementation, students were opening the assessment without reading the article and using the “find” feature within the article to find answers to assessment questions. This led to preventing entry into the assessment until the time for reading had elapsed. Our subsequent classroom observations showed us that this forced students to interact with the article and be more thoughtful about their answers to the assessment, i.e., answers were not cut-and-pasted from the article text. We advise others to continue this practice of thoughtful reflection when using annotated primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool. We also welcome any feedback or alternative uses of annotated primary scientific literature.

Future steps

The latest annotated primary scientific literature implementation protocol iteration is being pilot tested during fall 2018. Focusing more on robust evaluation now that implementation obstacles have been overcome will allow us to determine the effectiveness of annotated primary scientific literature as a pedagogical tool in undergraduate biology classrooms. Future studies are being designed to examine students’ scientific literacy before and after completing the annotated article activities using a previously validated scientific literacy instrument (Test of Scientific Literacy Skills [TOSLS]) [ 2 ]. Additionally, we aim to measure students’ subjective task values with regards to reading primary scientific research literature [ 25 – 28 ], as well as their primary scientific literature reading self-efficacy [ 29 – 32 ].

We hope to spread the word about annotated primary scientific literature and investigate its potential impacts on student learning and motivation as we further refine our implementation protocol and propagate beyond our department and institution.


We thank Beth Ruedi and Shelby Lake at AAAS, and Rebecca Vieyra for help editing this manuscript, our FIU colleagues Richard Brinn, Ligia Collado-Vides, Sat Gavassa, John Geiger, Camila Granados-Cifuentes, Zahra Hazari, Suzanne Koptur, and Sparkle Malone for providing us with class time, and all the participating students at FIU.

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  • 25. Eccles J, Adler TF, Futterman R, Goff SB, Kaczala CM, Meece JL, et al. Expectancies, values, and academic behaviors. In: Spence JT, editor. Achievement and achievement motives: Psychological and sociological approaches. San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman; 1983. pp. 75–146.
  • 29. Bandura A. Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; 1977.
  • 30. Bandura A. Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; 1986.
  • 32. Bandura A. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman; 1997.

annotation scientific article example

How to Annotate Texts

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Annotation Fundamentals

How to start annotating , how to annotate digital texts, how to annotate a textbook, how to annotate a scholarly article or book, how to annotate literature, how to annotate images, videos, and performances, additional resources for teachers.

Writing in your books can make you smarter. Or, at least (according to education experts), annotation–an umbrella term for underlining, highlighting, circling, and, most importantly, leaving comments in the margins–helps students to remember and comprehend what they read. Annotation is like a conversation between reader and text. Proper annotation allows students to record their own opinions and reactions, which can serve as the inspiration for research questions and theses. So, whether you're reading a novel, poem, news article, or science textbook, taking notes along the way can give you an advantage in preparing for tests or writing essays. This guide contains resources that explain the benefits of annotating texts, provide annotation tools, and suggest approaches for diverse kinds of texts; the last section includes lesson plans and exercises for teachers.

Why annotate? As the resources below explain, annotation allows students to emphasize connections to material covered elsewhere in the text (or in other texts), material covered previously in the course, or material covered in lectures and discussion. In other words, proper annotation is an organizing tool and a time saver. The links in this section will introduce you to the theory, practice, and purpose of annotation. 

How to Mark a Book, by Mortimer Adler

This famous, charming essay lays out the case for marking up books, and provides practical suggestions at the end including underlining, highlighting, circling key words, using vertical lines to mark shifts in tone/subject, numbering points in an argument, and keeping track of questions that occur to you as you read. 

How Annotation Reshapes Student Thinking (TeacherHUB)

In this article, a high school teacher discusses the importance of annotation and how annotation encourages more effective critical thinking.

The Future of Annotation (Journal of Business and Technical Communication)

This scholarly article summarizes research on the benefits of annotation in the classroom and in business. It also discusses how technology and digital texts might affect the future of annotation. 

Annotating to Deepen Understanding (Texas Education Agency)

This website provides another introduction to annotation (designed for 11th graders). It includes a helpful section that teaches students how to annotate reading comprehension passages on tests.

Once you understand what annotation is, you're ready to begin. But what tools do you need? How do you prepare? The resources linked in this section list strategies and techniques you can use to start annotating. 

What is Annotating? (Charleston County School District)

This resource gives an overview of annotation styles, including useful shorthands and symbols. This is a good place for a student who has never annotated before to begin.

How to Annotate Text While Reading (YouTube)

This video tutorial (appropriate for grades 6–10) explains the basic ins and outs of annotation and gives examples of the type of information students should be looking for.

Annotation Practices: Reading a Play-text vs. Watching Film (U Calgary)

This blog post, written by a student, talks about how the goals and approaches of annotation might change depending on the type of text or performance being observed. 

Annotating Texts with Sticky Notes (Lyndhurst Schools)

Sometimes students are asked to annotate books they don't own or can't write in for other reasons. This resource provides some strategies for using sticky notes instead.

Teaching Students to Close Read...When You Can't Mark the Text (Performing in Education)

Here, a sixth grade teacher demonstrates the strategies she uses for getting her students to annotate with sticky notes. This resource includes a link to the teacher's free Annotation Bookmark (via Teachers Pay Teachers).

Digital texts can present a special challenge when it comes to annotation; emerging research suggests that many students struggle to critically read and retain information from digital texts. However, proper annotation can solve the problem. This section contains links to the most highly-utilized platforms for electronic annotation.

Evernote is one of the two big players in the "digital annotation apps" game. In addition to allowing users to annotate digital documents, the service (for a fee) allows users to group multiple formats (PDF, webpages, scanned hand-written notes) into separate notebooks, create voice recordings, and sync across all sorts of devices. 

OneNote is Evernote's main competitor. Reviews suggest that OneNote allows for more freedom for digital note-taking than Evernote, but that it is slightly more awkward to import and annotate a PDF, especially on certain platforms. However, OneNote's free version is slightly more feature-filled, and OneNote allows you to link your notes to time stamps on an audio recording.

Diigo is a basic browser extension that allows a user to annotate webpages. Diigo also offers a Screenshot app that allows for direct saving to Google Drive.

While the creators of Hypothesis like to focus on their app's social dimension, students are more likely to be interested in the private highlighting and annotating functions of this program.

Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit is one of the leading PDF readers. Though the full suite must be purchased, Foxit offers a number of annotation and highlighting tools for free.

Nitro PDF Reader

This is another well-reviewed, free PDF reader that includes annotation and highlighting. Annotation, text editing, and other tools are included in the free version.

Goodreader is a very popular Mac-only app that includes annotation and editing tools for PDFs, Word documents, Powerpoint, and other formats.

Although textbooks have vocabulary lists, summaries, and other features to emphasize important material, annotation can allow students to process information and discover their own connections. This section links to guides and video tutorials that introduce you to textbook annotation. 

Annotating Textbooks (Niagara University)

This PDF provides a basic introduction as well as strategies including focusing on main ideas, working by section or chapter, annotating in your own words, and turning section headings into questions.

A Simple Guide to Text Annotation (Catawba College)

The simple, practical strategies laid out in this step-by-step guide will help students learn how to break down chapters in their textbooks using main ideas, definitions, lists, summaries, and potential test questions.

Annotating (Mercer Community College)

This packet, an excerpt from a literature textbook, provides a short exercise and some examples of how to do textbook annotation, including using shorthand and symbols.

Reading Your Healthcare Textbook: Annotation (Saddleback College)

This powerpoint contains a number of helpful suggestions, especially for students who are new to annotation. It emphasizes limited highlighting, lots of student writing, and using key words to find the most important information in a textbook. Despite the title, it is useful to a student in any discipline.

Annotating a Textbook (Excelsior College OWL)

This video (with included transcript) discusses how to use textbook features like boxes and sidebars to help guide annotation. It's an extremely helpful, detailed discussion of how textbooks are organized.

Because scholarly articles and books have complex arguments and often depend on technical vocabulary, they present particular challenges for an annotating student. The resources in this section help students get to the heart of scholarly texts in order to annotate and, by extension, understand the reading.

Annotating a Text (Hunter College)

This resource is designed for college students and shows how to annotate a scholarly article using highlighting, paraphrase, a descriptive outline, and a two-margin approach. It ends with a sample passage marked up using the strategies provided. 

Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article (

This is an effective introduction to annotating scholarly articles across all disciplines. This resource encourages students to break down how the article uses primary and secondary sources and to annotate the types of arguments and persuasive strategies (synthesis, analysis, compare/contrast).

How to Highlight and Annotate Your Research Articles (CHHS Media Center)

This video, developed by a high school media specialist, provides an effective beginner-level introduction to annotating research articles. 

How to Read a Scholarly Book (

In this essay, a college professor lets readers in on the secrets of scholarly monographs. Though he does not discuss annotation, he explains how to find a scholarly book's thesis, methodology, and often even a brief literature review in the introduction. This is a key place for students to focus when creating annotations. 

A 5-step Approach to Reading Scholarly Literature and Taking Notes (Heather Young Leslie)

This resource, written by a professor of anthropology, is an even more comprehensive and detailed guide to reading scholarly literature. Combining the annotation techniques above with the reading strategy here allows students to process scholarly book efficiently. 

Annotation is also an important part of close reading works of literature. Annotating helps students recognize symbolism, double meanings, and other literary devices. These resources provide additional guidelines on annotating literature.

AP English Language Annotation Guide (YouTube)

In this ~10 minute video, an AP Language teacher provides tips and suggestions for using annotations to point out rhetorical strategies and other important information.

Annotating Text Lesson (YouTube)

In this video tutorial, an English teacher shows how she uses the white board to guide students through annotation and close reading. This resource uses an in-depth example to model annotation step-by-step.

Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls (Purdue OWL)

This resources demonstrates how annotation is a central part of a solid close reading strategy; it also lists common mistakes to avoid in the annotation process.

AP Literature Assignment: Annotating Literature (Mount Notre Dame H.S.)

This brief assignment sheet contains suggestions for what to annotate in a novel, including building connections between parts of the book, among multiple books you are reading/have read, and between the book and your own experience. It also includes samples of quality annotations.

AP Handout: Annotation Guide (Covington Catholic H.S.)

This annotation guide shows how to keep track of symbolism, figurative language, and other devices in a novel using a highlighter, a pencil, and every part of a book (including the front and back covers).

In addition to written resources, it's possible to annotate visual "texts" like theatrical performances, movies, sculptures, and paintings. Taking notes on visual texts allows students to recall details after viewing a resource which, unlike a book, can't be re-read or re-visited ( for example, a play that has finished its run, or an art exhibition that is far away). These resources draw attention to the special questions and techniques that students should use when dealing with visual texts.

How to Take Notes on Videos (U of Southern California)

This resource is a good place to start for a student who has never had to take notes on film before. It briefly outlines three general approaches to note-taking on a film. 

How to Analyze a Movie, Step-by-Step (San Diego Film Festival)

This detailed guide provides lots of tips for film criticism and analysis. It contains a list of specific questions to ask with respect to plot, character development, direction, musical score, cinematography, special effects, and more. 

How to "Read" a Film (UPenn)

This resource provides an academic perspective on the art of annotating and analyzing a film. Like other resources, it provides students a checklist of things to watch out for as they watch the film.

Art Annotation Guide (Gosford Hill School)

This resource focuses on how to annotate a piece of art with respect to its formal elements like line, tone, mood, and composition. It contains a number of helpful questions and relevant examples. 

Photography Annotation (Arts at Trinity)

This resource is designed specifically for photography students. Like some of the other resources on this list, it primarily focuses on formal elements, but also shows students how to integrate the specific technical vocabulary of modern photography. This resource also contains a number of helpful sample annotations.

How to Review a Play (U of Wisconsin)

This resource from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center is designed to help students write a review of a play. It contains suggested questions for students to keep in mind as they watch a given production. This resource helps students think about staging, props, script alterations, and many other key elements of a performance.

This section contains links to lessons plans and exercises suitable for high school and college instructors.

Beyond the Yellow Highlighter: Teaching Annotation Skills to Improve Reading Comprehension (English Journal)

In this journal article, a high school teacher talks about her approach to teaching annotation. This article makes a clear distinction between annotation and mere highlighting.

Lesson Plan for Teaching Annotation, Grades 9–12 (

This lesson plan, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, contains four complete lessons that help introduce high school students to annotation.

Teaching Theme Using Close Reading (Performing in Education)

This lesson plan was developed by a middle school teacher, and is aligned to Common Core. The teacher presents her strategies and resources in comprehensive fashion.

Analyzing a Speech Using Annotation (UNC-TV/PBS Learning Media)

This complete lesson plan, which includes a guide for the teacher and relevant handouts for students, will prepare students to analyze both the written and presentation components of a speech. This lesson plan is best for students in 6th–10th grade.

Writing to Learn History: Annotation and Mini-Writes (

This teaching guide, developed for high school History classes, provides handouts and suggested exercises that can help students become more comfortable with annotating historical sources.

Writing About Art (The College Board)

This Prezi presentation is useful to any teacher introducing students to the basics of annotating art. The presentation covers annotating for both formal elements and historical/cultural significance.

Film Study Worksheets (

This resource contains links to a general film study worksheet, as well as specific worksheets for novel adaptations, historical films, documentaries, and more. These resources are appropriate for advanced middle school students and some high school students. 

Annotation Practice Worksheet (La Guardia Community College)

This worksheet has a sample text and instructions for students to annotate it. It is a useful resource for teachers who want to give their students a chance to practice, but don't have the time to select an appropriate piece of text. 

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Tools for Research: Annotation

Popular annotation tools, website

With the aim of improving the quality of information available for scholars on the web, makes it possible to analyze everything from blogs and news articles to scientific articles and e-books. Collaborate with others to discuss texts and keep personal notes on what you read.

  • Web browser
  • Chrome extension (optional)
  • Bookmarklet (optional) 

Science in the Classroom recruits graduate students to annotate research articles online. Undergraduate students can then read the annotated versions, enriching their experience as they learn to read academic writing.

Live-annotate new documents, from hip-hop lyrics to the State of the Union address, to build critical reading skills.

  • License:  Free, open, non-profit
  • Create an account
  • Quick Start Guide for Teachers
  • Quick Start Guide for Students

Manifold Scholarship Icon

UW's Manifold Site

The UW Press and UW Libraries have an opportunity to participate in a pilot Manifold Scholarship, a digital book publishing platform created by University of Minnesota Press. Manifold is unique as it serves as a digital text platform with chapters like a traditional text with the added ability to incorporate media, visualizations, gaming, and more along with the text.

Public domain, open access, and texts to which you have the copyright can be shared through Manifold and annotated. You may annotate texts publicly or set up private annotation groups to share annotations with only with those within your groups.

  • Frankenreads  a shared text used and annotated during the 2018 Frankenreads event
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Lacuna Stories

Lacuna Stories website

Lacuna Stories allows multiple users to simultaneously read and annotate a digital text, transitioning the Western tradition of handwritten annotations to a 21st century format. Annotations can be searched and mapped to pinpoint particular types of responses or follow individual student reading experiences. Lacuna can also support long-form writing assignments.

  • Server with PHP support 
  • Command line access to your server 
  • Drupal experience
  • Annotator.js plugin

An instructor embeds an annotation prompt to a noteworthy section of the text, and tracks student responses and questions to guide classroom discussion.

A scholar studies their previous annotations, and those of their peers, as they are formulating a research question and thesis for their final paper.

Assignment Ideas

  • License: Lacuna grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to access and use the Site and the Material. Registered users may download Material from the Site only for such user’s own personal, non-commercial use. 
  • Lacuna Stories can be downloaded via GitHub .
  • Installations Instructions

Additional Tools

  • AnnotateIt A project of Open Knowledge, AnnotateIt allows users to annotate content found anywhere on the web
  • Prism ScholarsLab Described as a tool for “crowdsourcing interpretation,” Prism ScholarsLab is a fast-growing platform for reading digital texts together. Users can highlight sections of a text and view the most popular terms or words. An account is required.
  • Thinglink ThingLink enables users to embed clickable links or pop-up content within the photos and videos they create and share online. Free accounts provide basic features, while subscription accounts grant access to premium features, such as 360° video embedding.
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Learning Center

Annotating Texts

What is annotation.

Annotation can be:

  • A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document
  • A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points
  • An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information

Why annotate?

  • Isolate and organize important material
  • Identify key concepts
  • Monitor your learning as you read
  • Make exam prep effective and streamlined
  • Can be more efficient than creating a separate set of reading notes

How do you annotate?

Summarize key points in your own words .

  • Use headers and words in bold to guide you
  • Look for main ideas, arguments, and points of evidence
  • Notice how the text organizes itself. Chronological order? Idea trees? Etc.

Circle key concepts and phrases

  • What words would it be helpful to look-up at the end?
  • What terms show up in lecture? When are different words used for similar concepts? Why?

Write brief comments and questions in the margins

  • Be as specific or broad as you would like—use these questions to activate your thinking about the content
  • See our handout on reading comprehension tips for some examples

Use abbreviations and symbols

  • Try ? when you have a question or something you need to explore further
  • Try ! When something is interesting, a connection, or otherwise worthy of note
  • Try * For anything that you might use as an example or evidence when you use this information.
  • Ask yourself what other system of symbols would make sense to you.


  • Highlight or underline, but mindfully. Check out our resource on strategic highlighting for tips on when and how to highlight.

Use comment and highlight features built into pdfs, online/digital textbooks, or other apps and browser add-ons

  • Are you using a pdf? Explore its highlight, edit, and comment functions to support your annotations
  • Some browsers have add-ons or extensions that allow you to annotate web pages or web-based documents
  • Does your digital or online textbook come with an annotation feature?
  • Can your digital text be imported into a note-taking tool like OneNote, EverNote, or Google Keep? If so, you might be able to annotate texts in those apps

What are the most important takeaways?

  • Annotation is about increasing your engagement with a text
  • Increased engagement, where you think about and process the material then expand on your learning, is how you achieve mastery in a subject
  • As you annotate a text, ask yourself: how would I explain this to a friend?
  • Put things in your own words and draw connections to what you know and wonder

The table below demonstrates this process using a geography textbook excerpt (Press 2004):

A chart featuring a passage from a text in the left column and then columns that illustrate annotations that include too much writing, not enough writing, and a good balance of writing.

A common concern about annotating texts: It takes time!

Yes, it can, but that time isn’t lost—it’s invested.

Spending the time to annotate on the front end does two important things:

  • It saves you time later when you’re studying. Your annotated notes will help speed up exam prep, because you can review critical concepts quickly and efficiently.
  • It increases the likelihood that you will retain the information after the course is completed. This is especially important when you are supplying the building blocks of your mind and future career.

One last tip: Try separating the reading and annotating processes! Quickly read through a section of the text first, then go back and annotate.

Works consulted:

Nist, S., & Holschuh, J. (2000). Active learning: strategies for college success. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 202-218.

Simpson, M., & Nist, S. (1990). Textbook annotation: An effective and efficient study strategy for college students. Journal of Reading, 34: 122-129.

Press, F. (2004). Understanding earth (4th ed). New York: W.H. Freeman. 208-210.

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A semantic annotation framework for scientific publications

  • Published: 11 June 2016
  • Volume 51 , pages 1009–1025, ( 2017 )

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  • Yuchul Jung   ORCID: 1  

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Considering the growing volume of scientific literature, techniques that enable automatic detection of informational entities existing in scientific research articles may contribute to the extension of scientific knowledge and practical usages. Although there have been several efforts to extract informative entities from patent and biomedical research articles, there are few attempts in other scientific literatures. In this paper, we introduce an automatic semantic annotation framework for research articles based on entity recognition techniques. Our approach includes tag set modeling for semantic annotation, semi-automatic annotation tool, manual annotation for training data preparation, and supervised machine learning to develop entity type recognition module. For experiments, we choose two different domains, such as information and communication technology and chemical engineering due to their high usages. In addition, we provide three application scenarios of how our annotation framework can be used and extended further. It is to guide potential researchers who are willing to link their own contents with external data.

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Jung, Y. A semantic annotation framework for scientific publications. Qual Quant 51 , 1009–1025 (2017).

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annotation scientific article example

Tips for Teaching Annotation in Science Class

annotation scientific article example

This guest post was written by a friend of mine, Kristin Lee, who writes terrific resources for teachers who want to help their students with scientific literacy!

Scientific Literacy is becoming an increasingly important set of skills for our students and to our society at large. How do I tell fact from fiction? What is this commercial/article/story/author trying to tell me? How does this jive with what I already know about this topic? These are critical questions we ask ourselves when we encounter new information and we should be helping students navigate answering them in our science classrooms. We can build up these skills when we connect what our students learn about language, reading, and critical thinking to science.

Annotating text as you read is one way to put it into action. When used purposefully, it can be an excellent way to get students thinking critically about almost any topic. That makes it an brilliant tool for science class! But sometimes language skills seem out of our depth, or just the thought of adding one more thing to our plate feels overwhelming. Here are some quick tips on how to use text annotating in your secondary science class.

1.) Make it Meaningful.

        It’s a big one! The easiest way to turn your students off annotating text is to let it become busy work. To combat that, make the annotation directly related to why the students are reading the text and what you will do after reading.

Doing a vocabulary activity afterwards? Then the students should be focusing on vocabulary in their annotation.

Are you asking them to read a text to build empathy about an environmental issue? It makes sense to ask them to annotate with their feelings and reactions to phrases, facts, and statistics.

There are many different ways to annotate, so choose one that adds to your lesson and helps the students accomplish their goal.  It may seem counterintuitive, but another way to keep annotating meaningful is NOT doing it all the time. Decide which activities and topics where annotating will make the biggest difference to student understanding and engagement.

Examples of types of annotation you can use:

                    Summarizing and Paraphrasing

                    Analyzing Text Structure or Text Features

                    Emotional Reaction

                    Vocabulary Exploration

                    Evaluating the Source/Author’s Purpose

                    Comparing and Contrasting

2.) Model. A lot.

        Annotating while you read doesn’t come naturally, so it’s important to show your students lots of examples of what you are expecting.  Reading passages out loud and narrating your thought process as you make annotations helps your students see what annotating looks like. Each time you introduce a new style of annotating, model it to your students. You could even get the students modeling their process for one another!  The more they see it, the more comfortable they will be.

annotation scientific article example

3.) Start Small .

        Students won’t be able to annotate a 3-page news article right out of the gate. Start small with a couple of paragraphs and work your way up to larger texts.  Build up their confidence in their annotating skills with practice and modeling.  You’ll be happy you did!

4.) Use a Focusing Question.

        The more specific you can be about the annotation you want, the more purposeful it will be. It can help to give the students a question to keep in mind while they read and while they annotate. Let them know how the question will be used after they have finished reading. Such as having students write responses, starting class discussions, or starting peer discussions. Having a question to focus their work is a positive way to keep them engaged in both the reading and the annotating.

5.) Use for Vocabulary Building and Exploration.

        Let’s face it – science reading can get extremely vocabulary dense, technical, and inaccessible. It can be a major barrier to student reading engagement and comprehension.  This is especially true when the text is not necessarily written with children in mind. But never fear! You can use annotation to help support your readers by using it as an opportunity to explore vocabulary that they are and aren’t familiar with.

Ask your students to focus on the vocabulary of the text and make note of science vocabulary they are already familiar with:

Is the word used in a familiar way?

Does it fit with what you already know on the topic?

And then ask them to note with a different color or symbol the words they aren’t so sure about:

What could this word mean in the sentence and context it’s used in?

Where can I do some research on this word later?

After reading, they can research the word lists they’ve made and reflect on how the new information changes their understanding of the text. Think of it as the Scientific Method of Vocabulary!

6.) Pull in the Literacy Skills that Lend Naturally to Science.

        I have a few favorite literacy skills to pull in to science content and they are very useful to meaningful annotating. These are my favorites:

        -Author’s Purpose: Evaluating the source of information is one of the most crucial aspects of scientific literacy. Assessing text for things like bias, credibility, and intent is good science and also goes hand-in-hand with the Author’s Purpose ELA standards. Annotating can fit in well by having the students pay particular attention to source or author information, opinion vs. fact, subjective vs. objective language, etc.

        -Determining Meaning: Determining meaning is all about using the context of the rest of the text to figure out unfamiliar words and phrases, looking at how particular words and phrases change meaning and tone, working out words that can have multiple meanings, etc. Because science texts often rely heavily on science, and sometimes technical, vocabulary – this is an easy and helpful place where ELA skills can crossover. This is also something we are used to doing while we read: identifying words and phrases that are unfamiliar to us or used in a way that isn’t how we typically see it and then looking for clues in the context around it to help us out. That is a process we can help our students annotate through to become more effective text detectives.

        – Referring Back to the Text: Because you’ve already got your students thinking critically about the text, making note of important information, and you’ve directly related the annotating to the after-reading activity – it becomes really natural to extend that in to teaching students to refer back to the text often and cite textual evidence.  They’ve already done the legwork as they read, so picking out which pieces of information support their answers, decisions, conclusions, or arguments is much simpler. This is especially important in science because we want to focus on evidence-based conclusions.

7.) Don’t Grade It.

        Annotating is a means to an end – meaningful engagement with the text and aiding in the accomplishment of an after-reading goal. Those ends will generally speak for themselves!  Annotating looks vastly different for each student and it’s just plain hard to assign a grade for how well a given annotation helped a student understand, build vocabulary, or complete a writing prompt. So save yourself the trouble – let students’ annotations stand on their own. Ask them to reflect after an activity on whether their annotating helped them and what they’d like to do differently next time.  

8.) Make it Fun.

        Okay, this one is kind of cliché AND doesn’t necessarily relate only to science class. But everyone loves fun colored pencils, highlighters, post-it flags, colored paper clips, and whatever else you can find in the Target Dollar Spot! It’s a simple way to create annotating buy-in.  Go a little nuts.

annotation scientific article example

Would you like to start with reading about scientists in your science class?   Go here to download a free scientist of the week reading!

Do you have a go-to strategy for annotation in your science class? Tell us about it in the comments!  

Kristin Lee combines creativity and scientific literacy to craft classroom materials that support students and teachers in their science classrooms. Prior to becoming a teacher-author, she spent many years working in education outside of Chicago. When not creating new ways to get kids hooked on science, Kristin enjoys playing with her young son, playing fantasy football, and other wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. You also can find her on TeachersPayTeachers , Boom Learning , Pinterest , Instagram , and her website .

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  1. Sample Annotations

    The University of Toronto offers an example that illustrates how to summarize a study's research methods and argument.. The Memorial University of Newfoundland presents these examples of both descriptive and critical annotations.. The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin gives examples of the some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies.

  2. Annotating a Journal Article

    0:00: Owl: Welcome to Annotating a Journal Article, an instructional video on reading comprehension brought to you by the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab. 0:12: It's common for people to read articles in newspapers, magazines, and online. 0:18: But journal articles are a different kind of article, and they often can be very challenging to read.

  3. Writing Annotations

    Sample Annotated Bibliographies; Writing Annotations. An annotation is a brief note following each citation listed on an annotated bibliography. The goal is to briefly summarize the source and/or explain why it is important for a topic. They are typically a single concise paragraph, but might be longer if you are summarizing and evaluating. ...

  4. PDF Reading and Taking Notes on Scholarly Journal Articles

    Sit calmly, take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself with your inner voice: "I choose to remember what I learn today." Repeat this a few times, and then begin. Visualize or picture in your mind what you wish to remember. For many people, a mental picture or visualization is clearer and easier to remember than words.

  5. Annotating a Scientific Paper

    Science in the Classroom (SitC) features annotated research articles published in the Science family of journals.SitC uses 7 categories of annotations, each called a "LEARNING LENS" - - Glossary, Previous work [Introduction], Author's experiments [Methods], Results and Conclusions, News and policy links, Learning standards, and References and notes.

  6. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    Published on March 9, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2022. An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that includes a short descriptive text (an annotation) for each source. It may be assigned as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment to gather and read relevant sources on a topic.

  7. Getting Started With Annotated Bibliographies

    Scientific Article Discovery; EndNote Resources For Bio204. Examples of "Ecology" Citation Style ; Getting Started With Annotated Bibliographies; ... and all subsequent lines of the citation and annotation will indent to the right. Example of an Annotated Citation using the Ecology Journal Style.

  8. Annotated primary scientific literature: A pedagogical tool for

    Annotated primary scientific literature uses the original text of research articles along with a "Learning Lens" overlay, designed to provide students tools to use for interpretation. The "Learning Lens" is used to selectively highlight different parts of the text and is composed of seven headings: Glossary, Previous work, Author's ...

  9. PDF Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article

    Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article 6. Use the codes below to label one interpretation (other than thesis) and the evidence supporting it. I = interpretation E = evidence 7. If the thesis is restated in the conclusion, underline this restatement. 8. If a final thought is offered in the conclusion, double underline it. 9.

  10. LibGuides: SCI 100: Science for Life: Annotated Bibliographies

    Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

  11. Extracting discourse elements and annotating scientific ...

    Various models have been developed to manually or automatically annotate scientific writing, with the aim to improve summarisation or information retrieval using, for example, rhetorical structure or discursive categories ([5, 11,12,13, 19, 23, 28, 31, 32]). These works focus mainly on the "hard" sciences like biology or biomedical where ...

  12. Sample Annotated Bibliographies

    SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE (From the Cornell Libraries) The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation. NOTE: APA requires double spacing within citations. Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among ...

  13. All Neuroscience: Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography (AB) is a list of citations (journal articles, books, etc) where each citation is followed by a brief (about 120-150 words) evaluative and descriptive paragraph of the article (i.e. a summary of the research article in your own words). The purpose of annotating is for the reader to get the "gist" of the article by ...

  14. CSE Scientific Style and Format: Annotated Bibliography

    What is an Annotated Biblography? A list of resources such as books, articles, Web sites, and documents. The entries in an annotated bibliography consist of a citation and a short descriptive and evaluative paragraph, which is the annotation. Annotated are used to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy and the choice of resources used by ...

  15. Annotated primary scientific literature: A pedagogical tool for ...

    Annotated primary scientific literature is designed to help readers interpret complex science by overlaying additional information on a scientific research article. Preserving the original text and its context is what makes annotated primary scientific research literature unique from other genres that modify or rewrite the original text.

  16. How to Annotate Texts

    Proper annotation allows students to record their own opinions and reactions, which can serve as the inspiration for research questions and theses. So, whether you're reading a novel, poem, news article, or science textbook, taking notes along the way can give you an advantage in preparing for tests or writing essays.

  17. Writing the annotation

    Writing the annotation - Evaluation and analysis. You will usually be required to include an evaluation or critical analysis of the source in your annotation. This will require you to evaluate or critically analyse a source. In addition to the questions that you have already been asking, consider also:

  18. Tools for Research: Annotation

    Examples: Science in the Classroom recruits graduate students to annotate research articles online. Undergraduate students can then read the annotated versions, enriching their experience as they learn to read academic writing. Live-annotate new documents, from hip-hop lyrics to the State of the Union address, to build critical reading skills.

  19. Annotating Texts

    Annotation can be: A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document. A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points. An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information.

  20. Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners

    List the main results, with means, odds ratios, p -values, etc for each group. List the result of the primary endpoint first, followed by secondary outcomes Ensure that you have given a result for every method you mentioned in the methods section There should be enough detail to back up your conclusion. Conclusion.

  21. How To Annotate An Article: Learn Annotation Strategies

    Follow these key steps when annotating any text: Step 1: Scan. This is really a pre-reading technique. At first glance, make a note of the title of the text, and subheadings, if any, to identify the topic of the text. Analyze the source, i.e. the author or the publisher, to evaluate its reliability and usefulness.

  22. A semantic annotation framework for scientific publications

    Our semantic annotation framework is directly applicable to journal services. In case of researchers who frequently use scientific articles, named entity recognition—a kind of semantic annotation—on the target article, will provide self-explainable contents by allowing linking with external knowledge bases, such as DBpedia and Wikipedia.

  23. Tips for Teaching Annotation in Science Class

    Here are some quick tips on how to use text annotating in your secondary science class. 1.) Make it Meaningful. It's a big one! The easiest way to turn your students off annotating text is to let it become busy work. To combat that, make the annotation directly related to why the students are reading the text and what you will do after reading.