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Annotated Bibliographies

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Definitions

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.

For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources .

  • Reflect : Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.

Why should I write an annotated bibliography?

To learn about your topic : Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.

To help other researchers : Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.

The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific guidelines.

The bibliographic information : Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout . For APA, go here: APA handout .

The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need more space.

You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annotated Bibliographies

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain why annotated bibliographies are useful for researchers, provide an explanation of what constitutes an annotation, describe various types of annotations and styles for writing them, and offer multiple examples of annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE styles of citation.

Introduction

Welcome to the wonderful world of annotated bibliographies! You’re probably already familiar with the need to provide bibliographies, reference pages, and works cited lists to credit your sources when you do a research paper. An annotated bibliography includes descriptions and explanations of your listed sources beyond the basic citation information you usually provide.

Why do an annotated bibliography?

One of the reasons behind citing sources and compiling a general bibliography is so that you can prove you have done some valid research to back up your argument and claims. Readers can refer to a citation in your bibliography and then go look up the material themselves. When inspired by your text or your argument, interested researchers can access your resources. They may wish to double check a claim or interpretation you’ve made, or they may simply wish to continue researching according to their interests. But think about it: even though a bibliography provides a list of research sources of all types that includes publishing information, how much does that really tell a researcher or reader about the sources themselves?

An annotated bibliography provides specific information about each source you have used. As a researcher, you have become an expert on your topic: you have the ability to explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them. Think of your paper as part of a conversation with people interested in the same things you are; the annotated bibliography allows you to tell readers what to check out, what might be worth checking out in some situations, and what might not be worth spending the time on. It’s kind of like providing a list of good movies for your classmates to watch and then going over the list with them, telling them why this movie is better than that one or why one student in your class might like a particular movie better than another student would. You want to give your audience enough information to understand basically what the movies are about and to make an informed decision about where to spend their money based on their interests.

What does an annotated bibliography do?

A good annotated bibliography:

  • encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas.
  • proves you have read and understand your sources.
  • establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.
  • situates your study and topic in a continuing professional conversation.
  • provides a way for others to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research if they read it.
  • could help interested researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of work going on in a field.

What elements might an annotation include?

  • Bibliography according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
  • Explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its thesis—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source.
  • Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
  • Comments on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work in terms of both the topic being researched and/or your own research project.
  • The point of view or perspective from which the work was written. For instance, you may note whether the author seemed to have particular biases or was trying to reach a particular audience.
  • Relevant links to other work done in the area, like related sources, possibly including a comparison with some of those already on your list. You may want to establish connections to other aspects of the same argument or opposing views.

The first four elements above are usually a necessary part of the annotated bibliography. Points 5 and 6 may involve a little more analysis of the source, but you may include them in other kinds of annotations besides evaluative ones. Depending on the type of annotation you use, which this handout will address in the next section, there may be additional kinds of information that you will need to include.

For more extensive research papers (probably ten pages or more), you often see resource materials grouped into sub-headed sections based on content, but this probably will not be necessary for the kinds of assignments you’ll be working on. For longer papers, ask your instructor about their preferences concerning annotated bibliographies.

Did you know that annotations have categories and styles?

Decisions, decisions.

As you go through this handout, you’ll see that, before you start, you’ll need to make several decisions about your annotations: citation format, type of annotation, and writing style for the annotation.

First of all, you’ll need to decide which kind of citation format is appropriate to the paper and its sources, for instance, MLA or APA. This may influence the format of the annotations and bibliography. Typically, bibliographies should be double-spaced and use normal margins (you may want to check with your instructor, since they may have a different style they want you to follow).

MLA (Modern Language Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic MLA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • MLA documentation is generally used for disciplines in the humanities, such as English, languages, film, and cultural studies or other theoretical studies. These annotations are often summary or analytical annotations.
  • Title your annotated bibliography “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Following MLA format, use a hanging indent for your bibliographic information. This means the first line is not indented and all the other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • Begin your annotation immediately after the bibliographic information of the source ends; don’t skip a line down unless you have been told to do so by your instructor.

APA (American Psychological Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic APA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • Natural and social sciences, such as psychology, nursing, sociology, and social work, use APA documentation. It is also used in economics, business, and criminology. These annotations are often succinct summaries.
  • Annotated bibliographies for APA format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References” designation.
  • Like MLA, APA uses a hanging indent: the first line is set flush with the left margin, and all other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line.
  • The entire annotation is indented an additional two spaces, so that means each of its lines will be six spaces from the margin (if your instructor has said that it’s okay to tab over instead of using the four spaces rule, indent the annotation two more spaces in from that point).

CBE (Council of Biology Editors)/CSE (Council of Science Editors)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic CBE/CSE bibliography formatting and rules.

  • CBE/CSE documentation is used by the plant sciences, zoology, microbiology, and many of the medical sciences.
  • Annotated bibliographies for CBE/CSE format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References,” “Cited References,” or “Literature Cited,” and set it flush with the left margin.
  • Bibliographies for CSE in general are in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the paper.
  • When using the name-year system, as in MLA and APA, the first line of each entry is set flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines, including the annotation, are indented three or four spaces.
  • When using the citation-sequence method, each entry begins two spaces after the number, and every line, including the annotation, will be indented to match the beginning of the entry, or may be slightly further indented, as in the case of journals.
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line. The entire annotation follows the indentation of the bibliographic entry, whether it’s N-Y or C-S format.
  • Annotations in CBE/CSE are generally a smaller font size than the rest of the bibliographic information.

After choosing a documentation format, you’ll choose from a variety of annotation categories presented in the following section. Each type of annotation highlights a particular approach to presenting a source to a reader. For instance, an annotation could provide a summary of the source only, or it could also provide some additional evaluation of that material.

In addition to making choices related to the content of the annotation, you’ll also need to choose a style of writing—for instance, telescopic versus paragraph form. Your writing style isn’t dictated by the content of your annotation. Writing style simply refers to the way you’ve chosen to convey written information. A discussion of writing style follows the section on annotation types.

Types of annotations

As you now know, one annotation does not fit all purposes! There are different kinds of annotations, depending on what might be most important for your reader to learn about a source. Your assignments will usually make it clear which citation format you need to use, but they may not always specify which type of annotation to employ. In that case, you’ll either need to pick your instructor’s brain a little to see what they want or use clue words from the assignment itself to make a decision. For instance, the assignment may tell you that your annotative bibliography should give evidence proving an analytical understanding of the sources you’ve used. The word analytical clues you in to the idea that you must evaluate the sources you’re working with and provide some kind of critique.

Summary annotations

There are two kinds of summarizing annotations, informative and indicative.

Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:

  • They sum up the content of the source, as a book report might.
  • They give an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and note the resulting conclusion.
  • They do not judge the work they are discussing. Leave that to the critical/evaluative annotations.
  • When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to material. For instance, you might mention if the source is an ethnography or if the author employs a particular kind of theory.

Informative annotation

Informative annotations sometimes read like straight summaries of the source material, but they often spend a little more time summarizing relevant information about the author or the work itself.

Indicative annotation

Indicative annotation is the second type of summary annotation, but it does not attempt to include actual information from the argument itself. Instead, it gives general information about what kinds of questions or issues are addressed by the work. This sometimes includes the use of chapter titles.

Critical/evaluative

Evaluative annotations don’t just summarize. In addition to tackling the points addressed in summary annotations, evaluative annotations:

  • evaluate the source or author critically (biases, lack of evidence, objective, etc.).
  • show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
  • explain how researching this material assisted your own project.

Combination

An annotated bibliography may combine elements of all the types. In fact, most of them fall into this category: a little summarizing and describing, a little evaluation.

Writing style

Ok, next! So what does it mean to use different writing styles as opposed to different kinds of content? Content is what belongs in the annotation, and style is the way you write it up. First, choose which content type you need to compose, and then choose the style you’re going to use to write it

This kind of annotated bibliography is a study in succinctness. It uses a minimalist treatment of both information and sentence structure, without sacrificing clarity. Warning: this kind of writing can be harder than you might think.

Don’t skimp on this kind of annotated bibliography. If your instructor has asked for paragraph form, it likely means that you’ll need to include several elements in the annotation, or that they expect a more in-depth description or evaluation, for instance. Make sure to provide a full paragraph of discussion for each work.

As you can see now, bibliographies and annotations are really a series of organized steps. They require meticulous attention, but in the end, you’ve got an entire testimony to all the research and work you’ve done. At the end of this handout you’ll find examples of informative, indicative, evaluative, combination, telescopic, and paragraph annotated bibliography entries in MLA, APA, and CBE formats. Use these examples as your guide to creating an annotated bibliography that makes you look like the expert you are!

MLA Example

APA Example

CBE Example

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bell, I. F., and J. Gallup. 1971. A Reference Guide to English, American, and Canadian Literature . Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzburg. 1991. Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing , 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books.

Center for Information on Language Teaching, and The English Teaching Information Center of the British Council. 1968. Language-Teaching Bibliography . Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Engle, Michael, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. 2012. “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography.” Olin & Uris Libraries. Cornell University. Last updated September 25, 2012. https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/how-prepare-annotated-bibliography.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Huth, Edward. 1994. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers . New York: University of Cambridge.

Kilborn, Judith. 2004. “MLA Documentation.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated March 16, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/research/mla.html.

Spatt, Brenda. 1991. Writing from Sources , 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s.

University of Kansas. 2018. “Bibliographies.” KU Writing Center. Last updated April 2018. http://writing.ku.edu/bibliographies .

University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2019. “Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/annotatedbibliography/ .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography

  • Anatomy of a Research Paper
  • Developing a Research Focus
  • Background Research Tips
  • Searching Tips
  • Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Journals
  • Thesis Statement
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Citing Sources
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Literature Review
  • Academic Integrity
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Understanding Fake News
  • Data, Information, Knowledge

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

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Check out the resources available from the  Writing Center . 

Write an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

It is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. 

An annotation is a short summary and/or critical evaluation of a source.

Annotated bibliographies answer the question: "What would be the most relevant, most useful, or most up-to-date sources for this topic?"

 Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself. 

Annotation versus abstracts 

An abstract is a paragraph at the beginning of the paper that discusses the main point of the original work. They typically do not include evaluation comments. 

Annotations can either be descriptive or evaluative. The annotated bibliography looks like a works cited page but includes an annotation after each source cited. 

Types of Annotations: 

Descriptive Annotations: Focuses on description. Describes the source by answering the following questions. 

Who wrote the document?

What does the document discuss?

When and where was the document written? 

Why was the document produced?

How was it provided to the public?

Evaluative Annotations: Focuses on description and evaluation. Includes a summary and critically assess the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. 

Evaluative annotations help you learn about your topic, develop a thesis statement, decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment, and determine if there is enough valid information available to complete your project.

What does the annotation include?

Depending on your assignment and style guide, annotations may include some or all of the following information. 

  • Should be no more than 150 words or 4 to 6 sentences long. 
  • What is the main focus or purpose of the work?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • ​How useful or relevant was the article to your topic?
  • Was there any unique features that useful to you?
  • What is the background and credibility of the author?
  • What are any conclusions or observations that your reached about the article?

Which citation style to use?

There are many styles manuals with specific instructions on how to format your annotated bibliography. This largely depends on what your instructor prefers or your subject discipline. Check out our citation guides for more information. 

Additional Information

Why doesn't APA have an official APA-approved format for annotated bibliographies?

Always consult your instructor about the format of an annotated bibliography for your class assignments. These guides provide you with examples of various styles for annotated bibliographies and they may not be in the format required by your instructor. 

Citation Examples and Annotations

Book Citation with Descriptive Annotation

Liroff, R. A., & G. G. Davis. (1981). Protecting open space: Land use control in the Adirondack Park. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

This book describes the implementation of regional planning and land use regulation in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. The authors provide program evaluations of the Adirondack Park Agency’s regulatory and local planning assistance programs.

Journal Article Citation with Evaluative Annotation

Gottlieb, P. D. (1995). The “golden egg” as a natural resource: Toward a normative theory of growth management. Society and Natural Resources, 8, (5): 49-56.

This article explains the dilemma faced by North American suburbs, which demand both preservation of local amenities (to protect quality of life) and physical development (to expand the tax base). Growth management has been proposed as a policy solution to this dilemma. An analogy is made between this approach and resource economics. The author concludes that the growth management debate raises legitimate issues of sustainability and efficiency.

Examples were taken from http://lib.calpoly.edu/support/how-to/write-an-annotated-bibliography/#samples

Book Citation

Lee, Seok-hoon, Yong-pil Kim, Nigel Hemmington, and Deok-kyun Yun. “Competitive Service Quality Improvement (CSQI): A Case Study in the Fast-Food Industry.” Food Service Technology 4 (2004): 75-84.

In this highly technical paper, three industrial engineering professors in Korea and one services management professor in the UK discuss the mathematical limitations of the popular SERVQUAL scales. Significantly, they also aim to measure service quality in the fast-food industry, a neglected area of study. Unfortunately, the paper’s sophisticated analytical methods make it inaccessible to all but the most expert of researchers.

Battle, Ken. “Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits.”  A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada . Ed. Katherine Covell and R.Brian Howe. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 2007. 21-44.

             Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs.  He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children.  His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children.  Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists.  He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favour of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography.  He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses.  However, Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents.  This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada.

Journal Article Example

  Kerr, Don and Roderic Beaujot. “Child Poverty and Family Structure in Canada, 1981-1997.”  Journal of Comparative Family Studies  34.3 (2003): 321-335.

             Sociology professors Kerr and Beaujot analyze the demographics of impoverished families.  Drawing on data from Canada’s annual Survey of Consumer Finances, the authors consider whether each family had one or two parents, the age of single parents, and the number of children in each household.  They analyze child poverty rates in light of both these demographic factors and larger economic issues.  Kerr and Beaujot use this data to argue that. 

Examples were taken from  http://libguides.enc.edu/writing_basics/ annotatedbib/mla

Check out these resources for more information about Annotated Bibliographies. 

  • Purdue Owl- Annotated Bibliographies
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill- Annotated Bibliographies
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  • Next: Citing Sources >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024 5:51 PM
  • URL: https://libguide.umary.edu/researchpaper

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APA 7th Edition Style Guide

  • Changes/updates
  • The Concise APA Handbook: APA 7th Edition
  • Article Examples
  • Book Examples
  • Internet Resources and Other Examples
  • Media Examples
  • Finding the DOI
  • APA Reference Quick Guide
  • Legal Cases
  • Sample Annotated Student Paper
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Handouts and Guides

More examples

  • Annotated bibliography example - UNT Dallas Library
  • Annotated bibliography template - UNT Dallas Library
  • APA 7th Edition Publication Manual - Sample Annotated Bibliography (See Fig. 9.3, p. 308)

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or “annotation.”

These annotations do one or more of the following:

  • describe the content and focus of the book or article
  • suggest the source’s usefulness to your research
  • evaluate its method, conclusions, or reliability
  • record your reactions to the source.

The process of writing an annotated bibliography provides a structured process to learn about a research topic. It causes you to read the available research (also referred to as "the literature") more closely as you develop a better understanding of the topic, related issues, and current trends. 

Source: The University of Wisconsin-Madison: The Writing Center

Writing a strong annotation

The hardest part of this assignment is writing the annotation, but knowing what it entails can make this task less daunting.

While not all of these are necessary, an annotation could/will:

  • Summarize the central theme and scope of the document
  • Evaluates the authority, credibility, and/or background of the author(s)
  • Comments on the intended audience (who was meant to read the document)
  • Assesses the source’s strengths and weaknesses (Interesting? Helpful? Strong/weak argument? Strong/weak evidence?)
  • Compares or contrast this work with others you have cited
  • Critiques the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source
  • Evaluates the methods, conclusions/findings, and reliability of the source
  • Shares how the source reinforces or contradicts your own argument
  • Records your reactions to the reading
  • States how the source will be used in your paper

Source:  UNT Dallas Learning Commons: Annotated Bibliography

Formatting rules

General Formatting Rules:

  • Format and order references in alphabetical order just as you would a reference list
  • Each annotation should be a new paragraph below its reference entry
  • Indent the entire annotation 0.5 inch from the left margins just as you would a block quotation
  • If the annotation spans multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs an addition 0.5 inch the same as you would a block quotation with multiple paragraphs  

Source: Section 9.51 Annotated Bibliographies in the APA 7th Edition Publication Manual

Sample annotated bibliography

Excelsior OWL Sample Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review

What's the big deal.

There are fundamental differences between an annotated bibliography and a literature review that are crucial to completing the assignment correctly. The chart below is provides an overview of the biggest differences between the two types of assignments in a side-by-side comparison. However, if you need more specific information about either assignment, visit our Annotated Bibliography and/or Literature Review pages for more detailed information on how to complete them. 

Differences between an annotated bibliography and literature review

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Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography vs. Research Paper... What's the difference?

Literature Review

The purpose of a literature review is to provide an overview of existing academic literature on a specific topic and an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s arguments. You are summarizing what research is available on a certain topic and then drawing conclusions about the topic. To make gathering your research easier, be sure to start with a narrow/specific topic and then widen your topic if necessary.

A literature review is helpful when determining what research has already been discovered through academic research and what further research still needs to be done. Are there gaps? Are there opportunities for further research? What is missing from my collection of resources? Are more resources needed?

It is important to note that the conclusions described in the literature you gather may contradict each other completely or in part.  A literature review gives the researcher an overview and understanding of research findings to date on a particular topic or issue.

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of resources that you have gathered on a topic that includes an annotation following the reference.  Like a References list, annotated bibliographies gather all resources discovered in the research process in one document. Each citation in the bibliography is followed by an annotation a 5-7 sentence paragraph consisting of a summary, an evaluation, and a reflection of that resource.

An annotated bibliography is different from a literature review because it serves a different purpose. Annotated bibliographies focus on sources gathered for a specific research project. A literature review attempts to take a comprehensive approach to evaluate all of the research available on a particular question or a topic to create the foundation for a research paper. 

For more information, please visit the annotated bibliography page of our APA guide.

Research Paper

A research paper presents a single argument/idea on a topic supported by research that you have gathered. Your own thoughts and opinions will be supported by research that you have gathered on your topic. The resources used in your research paper typically support the argument that you are making.

For more information on writing a research paper, check out our Writing guide .

Generally, either an annotated bibliography or a literature review are written first and set the framework for the final product: your research paper. 

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  • Examples of an Annotated Bibliography Use this document as an example of how to create an annotated bibliography for MLA, APA or Chicago styles.

Annotations vs. Abstract

Annotation vs. abstract.

At first glance, it may seem like a resource abstract and an annotation are the same thing. However, they serve different purposes

Abstracts are specifically descriptive summaries located at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or indexes. 

Annotation:

Annotations are often contextual to the research project. They are meant to assist in writing research papers by including not only a brief summary, but also one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the author's authority, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) explain how this work ties in with your thesis or (d) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a combination of two parts: the citation (in your chosen style) and a brief description of the source and how it is useful to your research. They can be used with any citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).  

Annotated bibliographies are a great way to collect your sources and determine how and why you have chosen to include them for your assignment. They help you think about the quality of the source you have chosen. 

The annotation, or description, part of the annotated bibliography is normally between 3-5 sentences, but may vary depending on what your instructor requires. Typically included in the annotation:

  • A short summary of the source and its information.
  • An assessment of the quality of information in the source. (Is the information reliable? What is the goal of the source? How does it compare to other resources you have collected? etc.)
  • An evaluation of how this source will be useful for your assignment. (Has it changed your thinking of your topic? How will it help shape your argument?) 

**Keep in mind your instructor may have different guidelines for your annotation than the three listed here. Always be sure to follow the requirements given by your instructor. **

Annotated Bibliographies are structured the same way as any other Works Cited or References page. Each citation is placed in alphabetical order and has a hanging indent. The annotation directly follows the citation it is describing. 

Visuals MLA

MLA Annotated Bibliography eample

The Process

Finding and selecting sources.

The quality and usefulness of your bibliography will depend on your selection of sources. Define the scope of your research carefully so that you can make good judgments about what to include and exclude. By understanding the requirements and focus of your research it will make the search process more streamlined. Refer to the  Finding Scholarly Sources  guide for searching tips. Consider these questions to help you find appropriate limits for your research:

  • What topic do I want to write about? What  question(s)  am I trying to answer? If your bibliography is part of a research project, this project will probably be governed by a research question/thesis. If your bibliography is a project on a general topic (e.g. incarceration and economic status), try formulating your topic as a question or a series of questions in order to define your search more precisely( ie. How does economic status effect incarceration sentences?) 
  • What  kind of material  am I looking for? (scholarly academic books and journal articles? government reports or policy statements? articles from the popular press? primary historical sources? etc.)
  • Do my sources fit the requirements of the assignment?

Summarizing

Your annotation should identify the main argument of the source. This is often the source's thesis or hypothesis. Include a brief description of the source's main points and the author's final conclusion. 

The following reading strategies can help you identify the argument of your source:

  • Identify the author’s thesis (central claim or purpose), research question, or hypothesis. Both the introduction  and  the conclusion can help you with this task.
  • Look for repetition of key terms or ideas. Follow them through the text and see what the author does with them. Note especially the key terms that occur in the thesis or research question that governs the text.
  • Notice how the text is laid out and organized. What are the main divisions or sections? What is emphasized? Why? Accounting for why will help you to move beyond listing contents and toward giving an account of the argument.
  • Notice whether and how a theory is used to interpret evidence or data. Identify the method used to investigate the problem/s addressed in the text.
  • Pay attention to the opening sentence(s) of each paragraph, where authors often state concisely their main point in the paragraph.
  • Look for paragraphs that summarize the argument. A section may sometimes begin or conclude with such a paragraph.

This section will be specific to your overall research. How does the source fit into the argument you are making in your paper? If your annotated bibliography is not part of a larger assignment, how does the source contribute to your larger selection of sources? Some thoughts to consider:

  • Are you interested in the way the source frames its research question or in the way it goes about answering it (its method)? Does it make new connections or open up new ways of seeing a problem? 
  • Are you interested in the way the source uses a theoretical framework or a key concept? 
  • Does the source gather and draw from other ideas and sources that you want to use? 
  • How do the source’s conclusions bear on your own thoughts?

In order to determine how you will use the source or define its contribution, you will need to assess the quality of the argument: why is it of value? what are its limitations? how well defined is its research problem? how effective is its method of investigation? how good is the evidence? would you draw the same conclusions from the evidence?

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Creating an Annotated Bibliography

  • What is an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an Annotation

Formatting an annotated bibliography.

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Components of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an APA reference list that includes a brief summary and analysis -- the annotation --  under the reference entry.  

An annotated bibliography includes:

  • APA Title page
  • Pages are numbered beginning with title page
  • References centered and bolded at top of page
  • Entries listed in alphabetical order
  • Annotations begin under its associated reference
  • Annotations are indented 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • The entire document is double spaced; no extra space between entries

Example of an annotated bibliography entry:

what is the difference between an annotated bibliography and a research paper

An  an n otated bibliography is composed of the full APA reference for a source followed by notes and commentary about that so urce. T he word  “annotate” means “critical or explanatory notes” and the word “bibliography” means “a list of sources”.  Annotation s are meant to be critical in addition to being descriptive.

Annotations are generally between five to seven sentences in length and appear directly under the APA reference.  The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inch from the left margin and lines up with the hanging indent of the APA reference.

Use the question prompts below as a guide when writing annotations:

• 2 to 4 sentences to  summarize   the main idea(s) of the source.

     - What are the main arguments?

     - What is the point of this book/article?

     - What topics are covered?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  assess   and  evaluate   the source.

     - How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?

     - Is this information reliable? current?

     - Is the author credible? have the background to write on this topic?

     - Is the source objective or biased?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  reflect   on the source.

     - Was this source helpful to you?

     - How can you use this source for your research project?

     - Has it changed how you think about your topic?

  • a title page, and
  • the annotated bibliography which begins on its own page with the word References bolded and centered at the top of the page.

Each entry begins with an APA reference for the resource with the annotation appearing directly beneath. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

Entries are listed in alphabetical order. The entire document is typed on one of the six approved font styles and sizes and is double spaced.  There is no additional space between entires.

Consider using Academic Writer or NoodleTools to create and format your annotated bibliography.  

what is the difference between an annotated bibliography and a research paper

APA Citation Style Resources and Tools

Apa academic writer.

Use the tools in the  References tab to create APA references for the resources in your annotated bibliography.  The form includes a text box for your annotation.  You can create your title page and assemble your annotated bibliography in the Write tab in this authoritative resource.

what is the difference between an annotated bibliography and a research paper

Create and format your annotated bibliography in NoodleTools .  Find information on how to create an account, create APA references, and creating and formatting an annotated bibliography in the NoodleTools Guide.

  • NoodleTools Guide

This video below provides an overview of how to create an annotated bibliography including evaluating resources, writing annotations, creating APA references, and formatting the final document in the APA style. 

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How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliographies

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Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography owl purdue.

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliography assignment.

Here's what you need to do for the annotated bibliography assignment: Using Pima’s online databases, find ten sources related to your major. Write a paragraph-long annotation for each source. Your annotations should provide information about the content of each source and explain how each source will help you in your career/major search. Make sure that your sources are listed in alphabetical order. Put spaces between sources. Use MLA guidelines. 

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of works (books, articles, films, etc.) on a particular topic. An annotated bibliography includes a paragraph following each citation that summarizes the work. An annotation can help the reader determine the value of each work on the topic and the contribution it might make to his own research. Two common types of annotated bibliographies are descriptive and critical .

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography shows that the author has understood the sources used during their research on a topic and gives the reader enough information to decide whether they should read the specific work.

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What is an annotated bibliography, what is the purpose of an annotated bibliography, what is the difference between a bibliography and an annotated bibliography, what is the difference between an annotated bibliography and an abstract, what are the two types of annotated bibliographies, how is an annotated bibliography organized, how long should an annotated bibliography be, how can i improve my annotated bibliography, resources to help with citations.

  • Components of the Annotation

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An annotated bibliography is a written assignment (paper, journal article, appendix to a journal article, or complete book) consisting of a series of entries on a single theme, organized either alphabetically, by date, or by topic. Each entry consists of two parts:

  • the citation information in a proper referencing style (MLA, Chicago, APA, CSE, etc.)
  • a brief summary (or "annotation") of the source in paragraph form
  • Note-taking Sheet for Annotated Bibliographies Use this fillable form after every article you read. Spend at least 10-15 minutes on your note-taking. Record essential information from one article or study. Remember, annotated bibliographies should do three things: summarize, analyze, and show relevance.

Each annotation enables readers to see the relationship of a number of written works to each other and in the context of the topic studied. Many annotations are both descriptive (telling readers what the source is about) and critical (evaluating the source’s usefulness or importance).

  • To present the reader with a fairly comprehensive, yet focused, review of the scholarly sources on a specific topic or in a specialized field
  • To provide the writer with a more in-depth understanding of a specific topic or specialized field in preparation for conducting future research
  • A bibliography is an organized list of works consulted when you are doing research on a particular topic, which is placed at the end of a paper, journal article, chapter, or book .
  • the citation in the proper referencing style
  • a one-paragraph discussion (or "annotation") of the source listed above
  • An abstract is a descriptive summary of a single longer text, with content summarized in the same order as the original. It is often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles, in periodical indexes, or in electronic databases
  • An annotation enables readers to see the relationship of a number of written works to each other and in the context of the topic studied
  • Although what is required in annotated bibliographies differs from discipline to discipline, many annotations are both descriptive and critical and illustrate the writer's library research skills, summarizing expertise, point of view, analytical ability, and understanding of the field

In the sciences and some of the more scientific disciplines of the social sciences, annotated bibliographies are rarely used; when they are used, they will often be primarily summary or descriptive—that is, they will paraphrase the original text.

In the arts and some social sciences, annotated bibliographies will be judged by how critical and analytical they are and often by how the writer links the text's usefulness to their potential or imaginary research project.

Summary or descriptive annotated bibliographies:

The summary or descriptive annotated bibliography provides a summary of the main findings in a source with no analysis or evaluation.

Critical annotated bibliographies:

A critical annotation goes beyond a simple summary of the original source.

  • It evaluates the reliability of the information presented, including the authors' credentials, the value of the reference for other scholars, and, if relevant, the appropriateness of the methodologies.
  • It evaluates the conclusions and discusses how successfully the authors achieve their aims. If the annotated bibliography is intended as a first step to a review of literature leading to a major paper, thesis, or dissertation, then it will also evaluate how useful the information and methodological approaches will be for someone doing research on a particular project.
  • It may also indicate your own critical reactions to the sources. This might be done by indicating whether the information presented is similar or different to other authors' findings or approaches to the subject— and hypothesizing why. For example, did the author fail to take important information into consideration? Did the author take a certain approach as the result of a particular theoretical viewpoint?

Annotated bibliographies can be organized in three different ways:

  • by author alphabetically
  • by subtopics or sections

Most undergraduate-level annotated bibliographies are relatively short and will not need an introductory paragraph and/or separate sections.

Longer annotated bibliographies may necessitate an introductory paragraph, explaining the scope of the selected sources (within certain dates, within geographic parameters, only in a certain discipline, etc.), or noting any other particulars (such as abbreviations, etc.).

The specific length of your annotations and the number of sources will vary from assignment to assignment. Check with your professor to find out what length and organizational style is preferred.

The text of an annotation normally ranges from four to ten sentences. This limit forces the writer to focus on the central ideas in the source.

A long annotated bibliography may be preceded by an introduction to the topic chosen, with a discussion of the rationale behind the selection of the entries for the bibliography as well as the exclusion of others, and the timeframe covered.

In a very long annotated bibliography, the entries are often numbered, but this is rare in undergraduate student papers. Other options for longer annotated bibliographies would be to arrange entries under topic and subtopic headings, or in chronological order.

After you have written a draft,

  • Re-read the assignment instructions carefully to make certain you have included all of the essential components that you need in each annotation. Make a checklist and compare each entry against the list.
  • Evaluate your annotations and assess whether you have included both summaries and critical evaluations for each entry.
  • Check each citation for accuracy and consistency in language and style.
  • Try to avoid the passive voice and use active voice instead (e.g., change "Artistic autonomy was spoken about by the presenter" to "The presenter spoke about artistic autonomy.")
  • Review your work to see if you have used clear and specific verbs such as demonstrates, asserts, speculates.
  • Check your verb tenses. In general, use present tense to describe an author’s ideas and arguments (e.g., Jones argues that…). However, if you are describing an action that was completed in the past, describe it using the past tense (e.g., Smith tested her hypothesis by observing five hamsters…).
  • Make certain that you have avoided using direct quotations, except when the words quoted are important terms that you wish to highlight.
  • Lastly, proof read your document for errors in grammar, punctuation, and style.
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Annotated Bibliography: Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review

  • Introduction
  • Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review
  • Types of Annotations
  • Creating Your Annotated Bibliography
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Differences between Annotated Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

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Annotated Bibliography vs Research Paper: The Comparison

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by  Antony W

January 26, 2024

Annotated Bibliography and Research Paper

A research paper can have an annotated bibliography, but an annotated bibliography can’t be a research paper. Get it? If you don’t, this annotated bibliography vs research paper guide will help you to understand the connection between the two.

For many students, the first obstacle faced when confronting an assignment is to find out what you have been asked to write.

Professors aren’t exactly known for their clear and direct instructions, which can leave you ​confused. That’s why Help for Assessment is here to set things right and help you understand:

  • What is an annotated bibliography?
  • What is a research paper?
  • What is the difference between a research paper and an annotated bibliography?
  • The ​connection between Annotated Bibliography and Research Paper.

In addition to this guide, the academic experts at Help for Assessment are also ready to do your annotated bibliography assignment or research paper for you at the  best rates on the market .

With a combined expertise covering every area of scholarly writing and projects, we place our professional services at your disposal. Check out our calculator ​and discover offers ​just for you  here .

If you’re here just for the guide, let’s get cracking.

What is a Research Paper?

A research paper is a detailed analysis of a subject seeking to develop or prove a single argument, and often contributes to the existing body of knowledge in the process.

It presents the author(s) point of view and is backed by extensive research, data, and credible academic sources. 

If you are imagining a pile of books and journals, a ton of library experiments, and red eyes from long nights, you’re right.

A research paper is everything you believe it to be, and more. When writing a research paper, you first start by identifying a subject topic.

You may or may not have a particular topic that you want to present at this point, but what follows is an intense research process to consume all the existing knowledge about it.

From there, the author develops a research question which the paper focuses on answering. This main argument becomes the backbone of the paper, and every piece of research or evidence presented will be to prove or disprove it.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a detailed review of a list of resources collected about a specific subject. You can think of it as a typical bibliography or reference list with an extra annotation for each source detailing what information it contains and how it contributes to the overall subject.

The annotation or citation for each source in the bibliography is about 5-7 sentences long, or up to 150 words each. It attempts to provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of the source to help guide the reader. 

The annotated bibliography rarely stands on its own, where you would typically expect to find another kind of paper called a literature review. Instead, you can find it as part of longer research papers, books, or even journals. However, in school, you can expect to do a few annotated bibliography assignments.

Writing an annotated bibliography usually starts with a  collection of sources . Your school librarian should be able to help you with that. Once you have a pile of books, journals, online sources, interviews, speeches, and all other kinds of primary sources, you cite them in either APA or MLA style as instructed. For each entry, however, you make sure to add the ~150-word paragraph detailing what it contains.

If you have trouble writing either  research papers , annotated bibliographies, or  literature reviews , Help for Assessment has detailed guides for you  check them out here on our blog . 

The annotated bibliography is very sensitive to the citation style used. Both APA and MLA styles have different guidelines for it.

Annotated Bibliography in MLA Style

An annotated bibliography in MLA looks like a Works Cited page and uses the same formatting, with the addition of a 150-200 word annotation.  Here are the guidelines for the same.

  • It should be on a separate page at the end of your paper. Label the page Works Cited and center the title.
  • Double-space all the citations but without extra spaces between entries.
  • List the page numbers of sources if need be, e.g. p20,  pp 50-100, or 225-50.
  • For online sources, include the URL or DOI (digital object identifier.)
  • Use a hanging indent for the annotation.

The annotation can be either summary or evaluative and includes information such as the author’s expertise, main arguments, relevance, and strengths or weaknesses identified. Read more about how to write an annotated bibliography on  here .

Annotated Bibliography in APA 

The guidelines for an annotated bibliography in APA citation style are as follows:

  • Start on a new page at the end of the paper.
  • Number the pages beginning on the first entry page.
  • Each reference should be bold and centered at the top of the page.
  • The entries should be listed in alphabetical order.
  • The annotation begins under the reference rather than on the same line and is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • The whole document is double spaced with no extra lines between entries.
  • For online sources, include the URL or DOI. No need for the “date accessed” under the new APA guidelines.

These are just basic guidelines, and you can find a complete guide and APA citation style and formatting  here .

Annotated Bibliography Vs. Research Paper

Differences.

  • An annotated bibliography reviews existing sources and material objectively, while a research paper seeks to develop an opinion or argument from existing knowledge or data.
  • An annotated bibliography will be much shorter than a research paper, depending on the number of entries. Each annotation has a maximum length of 200 words, while a research paper is 3000 to even 10,000 words or more.
  • Annotated bibliographies focus on a wider subject topic while a research paper is limited to a very specific research question.
  • You can have a research paper with an annotated bibliography as part of it, but not the other way round.
  • It’s much easier and quicker to do an annotated bibliography once you have read the sources. A research paper requires extensive research, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
  • A research paper always has a separate bibliography section, while an annotated bibliography is one in itself.

Similarities

  • Both involve comprehensive research and review of existing knowledge on a topic.
  • Both types of writing conform to one of the citation styles; either MLA or APA.
  • Both will be guided by an underlying subject topic or argument.
  • Both are common and important types of writing for college and post-graduate students.

​The Connection between Annotated Bibliography and Research Paper

Having explored the two types of academic writing, we can infer that an annotated bibliography and a research paper are closely related. The former forms a basis for developing the latter in that the sources contained therein form the foundation for a strong, compelling research paper.

We can even think of an annotated bibliography as part of the research process involved in developing a research paper, even though not everyone is required to include one in the final write-up. A typical reference list or works cited section only provides a listing of the sources, but an annotated bibliography is much more detailed and helpful.

Thus, the bottom line is: while both an annotated bibliography and a research paper are closely related, they are different and distinct. A research paper contributes to the body of knowledge upon a certain subject, while an annotated bibliography is simply a detailed review of the sources during such a paper or other academic project.

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Do you need help with either a research paper or an annotated bibliography? Help for Assessment has come to your aid. Our expert team is highly experienced in all forms of academic papers, projects, essays, and assignments. We are dedicated to helping you become better at school and guarantee top-grade papers, reliable and friendly service, and meet set deadlines every time. 

It’s time to leave your stressful workload to experts who know the way forward.  Check out our services section  today and see what we can do for you. As always, we promise and deliver thoroughly researched, authentic, and plagiarism-free work.  Place your order here .

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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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 . 

Example: 

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 http://www.jstor.org/stable/27784357

Kerka, S., & Imel, S. (2004). Annotated bibliography: Women and literacy.  Women's Studies Quarterly,  32 (1), 258-271. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233645656?accountid=2909

Papadantonakis, K. (1996). Selected Annotated Bibliography for Economists and Other Social Scientists.  Women's Studies Quarterly,   24 (3/4), 233-238. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40004384

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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Citation Guide

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What is a Bibliography?

What is an annotated bibliography, introduction to the annotated bibliography.

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  • the authors' names
  • the titles of the works
  • the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources
  • the dates your copies were published
  • the page numbers of your sources (if they are part of multi-source volumes)

Ok, so what's an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is the same as a bibliography with one important difference: in an annotated bibliography, the bibliographic information is followed by a brief description of the content, quality, and usefulness of the source. For more, see the section at the bottom of this page.

What are Footnotes?

Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of a page. They cite references or comment on a designated part of the text above it. For example, say you want to add an interesting comment to a sentence you have written, but the comment is not directly related to the argument of your paragraph. In this case, you could add the symbol for a footnote. Then, at the bottom of the page you could reprint the symbol and insert your comment. Here is an example:

This is an illustration of a footnote. 1 The number “1” at the end of the previous sentence corresponds with the note below. See how it fits in the body of the text? 1 At the bottom of the page you can insert your comments about the sentence preceding the footnote.

When your reader comes across the footnote in the main text of your paper, he or she could look down at your comments right away, or else continue reading the paragraph and read your comments at the end. Because this makes it convenient for your reader, most citation styles require that you use either footnotes or endnotes in your paper. Some, however, allow you to make parenthetical references (author, date) in the body of your work.

Footnotes are not just for interesting comments, however. Sometimes they simply refer to relevant sources -- they let your reader know where certain material came from, or where they can look for other sources on the subject. To decide whether you should cite your sources in footnotes or in the body of your paper, you should ask your instructor or see our section on citation styles.

Where does the little footnote mark go?

Whenever possible, put the footnote at the end of a sentence, immediately following the period or whatever punctuation mark completes that sentence. Skip two spaces after the footnote before you begin the next sentence. If you must include the footnote in the middle of a sentence for the sake of clarity, or because the sentence has more than one footnote (try to avoid this!), try to put it at the end of the most relevant phrase, after a comma or other punctuation mark. Otherwise, put it right at the end of the most relevant word. If the footnote is not at the end of a sentence, skip only one space after it.

What's the difference between Footnotes and Endnotes?

The only real difference is placement -- footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes all appear at the end of your document. If you want your reader to read your notes right away, footnotes are more likely to get your reader's attention. Endnotes, on the other hand, are less intrusive and will not interrupt the flow of your paper.

If I cite sources in the Footnotes (or Endnotes), how's that different from a Bibliography?

Sometimes you may be asked to include these -- especially if you have used a parenthetical style of citation. A "works cited" page is a list of all the works from which you have borrowed material. Your reader may find this more convenient than footnotes or endnotes because he or she will not have to wade through all of the comments and other information in order to see the sources from which you drew your material. A "works consulted" page is a complement to a "works cited" page, listing all of the works you used, whether they were useful or not.

Isn't a "works consulted" page the same as a "bibliography," then?

Well, yes. The title is different because "works consulted" pages are meant to complement "works cited" pages, and bibliographies may list other relevant sources in addition to those mentioned in footnotes or endnotes. Choosing to title your bibliography "Works Consulted" or "Selected Bibliography" may help specify the relevance of the sources listed.

This information has been freely provided by plagiarism.org and can be reproduced without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited. 

How Do I Cite Sources? (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2009, from http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_how_do_i_cite_sources.html

The Importance of an Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography is a collection of annotated citations. These annotations contain your executive notes on a source. Use the annotated bibliography to help remind you of later of the important parts of an article or book. Putting the effort into making good notes will pay dividends when it comes to writing a paper!

Good Summary

Being an executive summary, the annotated citation should be fairly brief, usually no more than one page, double spaced.

  • Focus on summarizing the source in your own words.
  • Avoid direct quotations from the source, at least those longer than a few words. However, if you do quote, remember to use quotation marks. You don't want to forget later on what is your own summary and what is a direct quotation!
  • If an author uses a particular term or phrase that is important to the article, use that phrase within quotation marks. Remember that whenever you quote, you must explain the meaning and context of the quoted word or text. 

Common Elements of an Annotated Citation

  • Summary of an Article or Book's thesis or most important points (Usually two to four sentences)
  • Summary of a source's methodological approach. That is, what is the source? How does it go about proving its point(s)? Is it mostly opinion based? If it is a scholarly source, describe the research method (study, etc.) that the author used. (Usually two to five sentences)
  • Your own notes and observations on the source beyond the summary. Include your initial analysis here. For example, how will you use this source? Perhaps you would write something like, "I will use this source to support my point about . . . "
  • Formatting Annotated Bibliographies This guide from Purdue OWL provides examples of an annotated citation in MLA and APA formats.

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Writing the Annotations

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"What should I include in my annotation?" is a common question when it comes to annotated bibliographies.  Ultimately, you are evaluating the articles to determine how good the information is and how it can contribute to your final project.  Think of an annotation as an explanation or argument for why you'd use this source in your research.

A critical analysis of  the research should discuss the strengths, weaknesses and findings of the study. It should also include credibility factors like the author's qualifications and writing style and integrity factors, such as were all steps of the research process followed. There are several systems for evaluating and grading research (see AHRQ and Fawcett text on left), but some standards for research studies (qualitative research, particularly) that should be evaluated by you are:

  • Specific research questions set forth
  • Defined and justified sample
  • Valid data collection
  • Appropriate analytic methods
  • Interpretations based on the data

Fink, A. (2009). Conducting Research Literature Reviews . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Understanding the Type of Article

The first thing you'll want to note about your article is what kind of source it is.  Articles often fall into one of three categories:

  • Scholarly :  Articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals are written for researchers, experts, professors, and professionals in a certain field.  Scholarly articles are often classified as primary sources or original research, meaning they are studying something new in that field; or secondary sources or reviews, meaning they sum up and evaluate research that's already been done.
  • Trade :  Articles from trade sources are written for working professionals in a field, but not necessarily people doing original research.  Trade articles may be news bulletins, guidelines for a certain profession or organization, press releases, or other information that helps people do their job.
  • Popular :  Articles from popular sources may include newspapers, magazines, books, content from websites, and more.  These articles are written for a general audience, not only for people working or studying in a certain field.

If you are unsure about what kind of article you have, visit this page for more detail. Keep in mind that not all articles found through a library database are scholarly or peer-reviewed.

Evaluating the Source

Once you know what kind of article you have, your next job will be to decide whether you think it's generally reliable, accurate, and high-quality.  A few things to consider are:

  • Author :  What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation (where he or she works), educational background, past writings, or experience? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise? Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization? What are the basic values or goals of the organization or institution?
  • Date of Publication :  When was the source published? On Web pages, the date of the last revision is usually at the bottom of the home page, sometimes every page. Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic? Topic areas of continuing and rapid development, such as the sciences, demand more current information. 
  • Edition or Revision :  Is this a first edition of this publication or not? Further editions indicate a source has been revised and updated to reflect changes in knowledge, include omissions, and harmonize with its intended reader's needs. Also, many printings or editions may indicate that the work has become a standard source in the area and is reliable. If you are using a Web source, do the pages indicate revision dates?
  • Publisher :  Note the publisher. If the source is published by a university press, it is likely to be scholarly. Although the fact that the publisher is reputable does not necessarily guarantee quality, it does show that the publisher may have high regard for the source being published.
  • Title and Scope of Journal:   What journal was the article published in, and what is the journal's purpose?  Many journals are geared toward a specific kind of research, which can be a factor in the types of articles that are published or the focus of the research being done.

Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA Permission to use and adapt this information was received from Cornell University Lilbrary.

Evaluating the Research

Assuming the article itself passes muster, your final job is to evaluate the research itself.  Reading the article abstract and scanning the table of contents of a journal or magazine issue is also useful. As with books, the presence and quality of a bibliography at the end of the article may reflect the care with which the authors have prepared their work.

In the case of a book, read the preface or introduction to determine the author's intentions for the work. Scan the table of contents and the index to get a broad overview of the material it covers. Note whether bibliographies are included. Read the chapters that specifically address your topic.

Some things to consider are:

  • Intended Audience :  What type of audience is the author addressing? Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience? Is this source too elementary, too technical, too advanced, or just right for your needs?
  • Objective Reasoning :  Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? It is not always easy to separate fact from opinion. Facts can usually be verified; opinions, though they may be based on factual information, evolve from the interpretation of facts. Skilled writers can make you think their interpretations are facts. Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence? Assumptions should be reasonable. Note errors or omissions. Are the ideas and arguments advanced more or less in line with other works you have read on the same topic? The more radically an author departs from the views of others in the same field, the more carefully and critically you should scrutinize his or her ideas. Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Is the language free of emotion-arousing words and bias?
  • Coverage :  Does the work update other sources, substantiate other materials you have read, or add new information?  Does it extensively or marginally cover your topic?
  • Writing Style :  Is the information organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read, or is it stilted or choppy? Is the author's argument repetitive?

Recommended Resources

For more information on how to critique a source, view the following library items:

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Q. What’s the difference between a regular bibliography and an annotated bibliography?

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Answered By: Jason Puckett Last Updated: Aug 12, 2021     Views: 5805

A bibliography (sometimes called "works cited" or "references") is a list of  citations  you have gathered while researching a topic.  These citations are created from your sources and provide your reader   with important information on your sources, such as author, title, and publication of the source.  

An annotated bibliography  is everything above, but also includes a paragraph  of brief information  below each citation.  Ask your instructor for specifics o n  what they want included in the annotated bibliography  as sometimes it can differ , but usually  you want to  include information that  summarizes  the source,  discusses  why you’ve chosen  that specific source , and  explains  how  that source   is important to  your  research .  

For more details on annotated bibliographies, visit  Purdue Owl’s Writing Lab and their page on annotated bibliographies . They will also include  an example , if you’d like to see one.  

For more help,  ask a librarian .

Reviewed 8/12/2021 bgw

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APA Formatting

Abstract apa formatting , abstract .

Begin the abstract on a new page 

Identify it with the running head and page number 2

Label "Abstract" should appear in upper and lower case letters 

  • Centered 
  • At top of the abstract 

Abstract itself is double spaced paragraph without paragraph indentation 

Times Roman typeface 

1-inch margins 

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type  Keywords:  (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Annotated Bibliography APA Formatting 

Annotated  Bibliography includes: 

The bibliographic information of the source 

  • APA Format 

The annotation follows the citation on the next line. 

The annotation

  • The length can vary from a couple of sentences to a page.
  • The length will depend on the purpose. 

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What is an Abstract & an Annotated Bibliography?

A brief summary of the research contents  Provides quick information about the topic including problem, methodology, participants (if any),  findings, and conclusion.   Qualities of a good abstract:

  • Accurate 
  • Non-evaluative 
  • Active Voice 
  • Present verb tense to describe conclusions 
  • Past verb tense to describe specific variables manipulates or outcomes measures
  • Concise 

Annotated Bibliography 

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/ or evaluation of each other sources. Depending on the assignment, your annotation may do one or more of the following:

  • Assess 

Annotated bibliographies are useful when organizing sources for research projects. 

what is the difference between an annotated bibliography and a research paper

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Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review

Prof M Lambert

  • By Prof M Lambert
  • November 12, 2020

DiscoverPhDs_Annotated_Bibliography_Literature_Review

If you’re undertaking a research project or writing a thesis in the US, be it at undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD level, you may be wondering what the difference between an annotated bibliography and a literature review is.

Both are important sections of a research paper and aim to give context to the sources cited around a particular research problem. A literature review places a stronger emphasis on the importance of the findings of a paper, whilst an annotated bibliography focuses on the quality, validity, and relevance of the source of information itself.

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review summarises the research findings of others in a specific topic (this can be from a range of publications including scholarly journal articles, textbooks, interviews, and magazines), critically appraises their work, and uses this information to develop the research project at hand. The purpose of this section is also to identify any gaps in knowledge that exist in the research topic and how your research project can help address them. The literature review also allows you to question the research carried out, for example: does one author’s argument conflict with another’s?, or are a particular author’s conclusions valid?

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Firstly, a bibliography is the list of sources referred to in a body of work. You should be familiar with this for any essay you have written – think of the APA style references you normally include. This includes important information about the source such as the author name, document title, date of publication, and page number (if applicable). The exact information differs depending on the source type – for example, a scholarly journal article may require a DOI ( Digital Object Identifier ) to be included in the citation, whilst a website will require a URL. The bibliography has several uses, primarily it serves as a reference point for readers who wish to read further into the statements made in a body of work. It also allows readers to question statements and verify the information provided in the body of work.

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources used in your body of work, which includes a brief summary for each source. These summary annotations evaluate the sources of information with regards to their accuracy and quality and identify any potential reasons for bias. As with a standard bibliography, an annotated bibliography should present sources alphabetically in a list-style format. The source summaries are typically around 150 words, though this can vary depending on the nature of the source.

Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review – What are the differences?

The literature review is presented in a more conversational tone (essay format), as it looks to relate the findings of the source to the research question under review. In comparison, the annotated bibliography is much more structured and factual. It may evaluate sources that only have an indirect relevance to the current project.

Another difference is the length. As mentioned earlier, the annotation summaries are around 150 words per source. The literature review, on the other hand, is typically somewhere between 6,000 – 12,000 words. This reinforces the fact that the annotated bibliography is a concise assessment of the source, whilst the literature review is a comprehensive appraisal of the current knowledge and contributions around a particular topic. For example, the annotated bibliography may comment on a research paper which conducted a similar study and note information such as the scale of the experiments, how they were conducted, and which parameters were controlled. In the literature review this same source of information may be discussed further: what were the limitations of this type of experiment, how does the methodology compare to other studies, do the findings support your argument, and was the scale big enough to draw valid conclusions.

Students preparing a dissertation or thesis should use their annotation summaries to help develop their literary review. This can be done by using the information provided in the bibliography as a reference point to help paint the bigger picture in the literature review.

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Q. What's the difference between an annotated bibliography and a literature review?

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Answered By: APUS Librarians Last Updated: Apr 14, 2017     Views: 59665

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science has these definitions:

"A literature review is a text written by someone to consider the critical points of current knowledge. A comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works."

An annotated bibliography is "a brief explanatory or evaluative note is added to each reference or citation. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry."

While a literature review and annotated bibliography share some similarities, they serve different purposes. A literature review answers a particular question about a particular subject (primarily:  what does the existing scholarly research have to say about my topic?). An annotated bibliography, by contrast, is more focused on the content and contribution of each individual source (and showcases your understanding of each).  

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  • How do I write an annotated bibliography?
  • How do I write a literature review?
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COMMENTS

  1. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    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. Scribbr's free Citation Generator allows you to easily create and manage ...

  2. Annotated Bibliographies

    To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic.

  3. Annotated Bibliographies

    Bibliographies for CSE in general are in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the paper. When using the name-year system, as in MLA and APA, the first line of each entry is set flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines, including the annotation, are indented three or four spaces.

  4. How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography

    Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself. Annotation versus abstracts. An abstract is a paragraph at the beginning of the paper that discusses the main point of the original work. They typically do not include evaluation comments. Annotations can either be descriptive or evaluative.

  5. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or "annotation." These annotations do one or more of the following: describe the content and focus of the book or article; suggest the source's usefulness to your research; evaluate its method, conclusions, or reliability

  6. Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review

    Notice, there a BIG DIFFERENCE between the two. An annotated bibliography is mostly a summary of the reading and a place for you to talk about how and why the literature fits in to your research. A Lit Review provides a summary + critical analysis + synthesis + overview of prior work done on a subject + reveals gaps in research. Structure.

  7. Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography vs. Research Paper... What

    Each citation in the bibliography is followed by an annotation a 5-7 sentence paragraph consisting of a summary, an evaluation, and a reflection of that resource. An annotated bibliography is different from a literature review because it serves a different purpose. Annotated bibliographies focus on sources gathered for a specific research project.

  8. LibGuides: English Resource Guide: Annotated Bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is a combination of two parts: the citation (in your chosen style) and a brief description of the source and how it is useful to your research. They can be used with any citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). Annotated bibliographies are a great way to collect your sources and determine how and why you have chosen ...

  9. RasGuides: APA 7th Edition Guide: Annotated Bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is an APA reference list that includes a brief summary and analysis -- the annotation -- under the reference entry. An annotated bibliography includes: APA Title page. Pages are numbered beginning with title page. APA formatted reference list beginning on own page. References centered and bolded at top of page.

  10. How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliographies

    Here's what you need to do for the annotated bibliography assignment: Using Pima's online databases, find ten sources related to your major. Write a paragraph-long annotation for each source. Your annotations should provide information about the content of each source and explain how each source will help you in your career/major search.

  11. Guides: Write an Annotated Bibliography: Start Here

    A bibliography is an organized list of works consulted when you are doing research on a particular topic, which is placed at the end of a paper, journal article, chapter, or book.; An annotated bibliography is a separate paper, journal article, appendix to a journal article, or complete book consisting of a series of entries on a single theme, organized either alphabetically, by date, or by topic.

  12. LibGuides: Annotated Bibliography: Annotated Bibliography vs

    Annotated Bibliography: Literature Review: Purpose: Ordered list of sources. Brief explanation and evaluation of sources. Focuses on content of each source. Organized discussion or topic. Focuses on thesis or research question. Significant use of sources in field. Structure: Organized like reference page. Annotations beneath citations.

  13. PDF Comparing the Annotated Bibliography to the Literature Review

    An annotated bibliography must organize sources alphabetically, but a literature review is likely to use problem/solution, cause/effect, comparison/contrast, classification/division, or process to organize sources. The following illustration provides an example of the differences in layout between an annotated bibliography and a literature review.

  14. Annotated Bibliography vs Research Paper: The Comparison

    An annotated bibliography will be much shorter than a research paper, depending on the number of entries. Each annotation has a maximum length of 200 words, while a research paper is 3000 to even 10,000 words or more. Annotated bibliographies focus on a wider subject topic while a research paper is limited to a very specific research question.

  15. 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. ... Five explanations are offered for recently assessed gender differences in the literacy achievement of male and female students in Canada and other countries ...

  16. Reference lists versus bibliographies

    A reference list contains works that specifically support the ideas, claims, and concepts in a paper; in contrast, a bibliography provides works for background or further reading and may include descriptive notes (e.g., an annotated bibliography). The Publication Manual (see Section 9.51) provides formatting guidance and examples for annotated ...

  17. What is a Bibliography?

    A bibliography is a list of all of the sources you have used in the process of researching your work. In general, a bibliography should include: the authors' names. the titles of the works. the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources. the dates your copies were published.

  18. LibGuides: ENG 112

    What is an Annotated Bibliography? An annotated bibliography is a list of sources you plan to use in your research project with notes explaining why you want to use them. For each source, cite, then summarize and evaluate. Usually, you will write one or two paragraphs for each source, but be sure to check a ssignment instructions. Annotations ...

  19. Writing the Annotations

    Think of an annotation as an explanation or argument for why you'd use this source in your research. A critical analysis of the research should discuss the strengths, weaknesses and findings of the study. It should also include credibility factors like the author's qualifications and writing style and integrity factors, such as were all steps ...

  20. What's the difference between a regular bibliography and an annotated

    Ask your instructor for specifics o n what they want included in the annotated bibliography as sometimes it can differ, but usually you want to include information that summarizes the source, discusses why you've chosen that specific source, and explains how that source is important to your research.

  21. LibGuides: Writing: Abstract & Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/ or evaluation of each other sources. Depending on the assignment, your annotation may do one or more of the following: Summarize; Assess ; Reflect; Annotated bibliographies are useful when organizing ...

  22. Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review

    Another difference is the length. As mentioned earlier, the annotation summaries are around 150 words per source. The literature review, on the other hand, is typically somewhere between 6,000 - 12,000 words. This reinforces the fact that the annotated bibliography is a concise assessment of the source, whilst the literature review is a ...

  23. What's the difference between an annotated bibliography and a

    An annotated bibliography is "a brief explanatory or evaluative note is added to each reference or citation. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry." While a literature review and annotated bibliography share some similarities, they serve different purposes.

  24. What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated

    Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts, with an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper.

  25. RESEARCH PAPERS Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like The major difference between a research paper and an essay is _____., A list of potential sources of information for a paper is a(n) _____., An index to hundreds of popular magazines found in the library is the _____. and more.

  26. PDF CHOICES/EARLY Annotated Bibliography As of 1/2/18

    The purpose of this paper was to describe weight indicators and weight-related behaviors, including sex differences, of 441 students enrolled in three Minnesota year2- colleges who participated in the Choosing Healthy Options in College Environments and Settings study. (CHOICES)During Fall 2011 and Spring