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What Is an Annotated Bibliography? | Examples & Format

Published on March 9, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2022.

An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that includes a short descriptive text (an annotation) for each source. It may be assigned as part of the research process for a paper , or as an individual assignment to gather and read relevant sources on a topic.

Scribbr’s free Citation Generator allows you to easily create and manage your annotated bibliography in APA or MLA style. To generate a perfectly formatted annotated bibliography, select the source type, fill out the relevant fields, and add your annotation.

An example of an annotated source is shown below:

Annotated source example

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Table of contents

Annotated bibliography format: apa, mla, chicago, how to write an annotated bibliography, descriptive annotation example, evaluative annotation example, reflective annotation example, finding sources for your annotated bibliography, frequently asked questions about annotated bibliographies.

Make sure your annotated bibliography is formatted according to the guidelines of the style guide you’re working with. Three common styles are covered below:

In APA Style , both the reference entry and the annotation should be double-spaced and left-aligned.

The reference entry itself should have a hanging indent . The annotation follows on the next line, and the whole annotation should be indented to match the hanging indent. The first line of any additional paragraphs should be indented an additional time.

APA annotated bibliography

In an MLA style annotated bibliography , the Works Cited entry and the annotation are both double-spaced and left-aligned.

The Works Cited entry has a hanging indent. The annotation itself is indented 1 inch (twice as far as the hanging indent). If there are two or more paragraphs in the annotation, the first line of each paragraph is indented an additional half-inch, but not if there is only one paragraph.

MLA annotated bibliography

Chicago style

In a  Chicago style annotated bibliography , the bibliography entry itself should be single-spaced and feature a hanging indent.

The annotation should be indented, double-spaced, and left-aligned. The first line of any additional paragraphs should be indented an additional time.

Chicago annotated bibliography

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annotated bibliography assignment prompt

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For each source, start by writing (or generating ) a full reference entry that gives the author, title, date, and other information. The annotated bibliography format varies based on the citation style you’re using.

The annotations themselves are usually between 50 and 200 words in length, typically formatted as a single paragraph. This can vary depending on the word count of the assignment, the relative length and importance of different sources, and the number of sources you include.

Consider the instructions you’ve been given or consult your instructor to determine what kind of annotations they’re looking for:

  • Descriptive annotations : When the assignment is just about gathering and summarizing information, focus on the key arguments and methods of each source.
  • Evaluative annotations : When the assignment is about evaluating the sources , you should also assess the validity and effectiveness of these arguments and methods.
  • Reflective annotations : When the assignment is part of a larger research process, you need to consider the relevance and usefulness of the sources to your own research.

These specific terms won’t necessarily be used. The important thing is to understand the purpose of your assignment and pick the approach that matches it best. Interactive examples of the different styles of annotation are shown below.

A descriptive annotation summarizes the approach and arguments of a source in an objective way, without attempting to assess their validity.

In this way, it resembles an abstract , but you should never just copy text from a source’s abstract, as this would be considered plagiarism . You’ll naturally cover similar ground, but you should also consider whether the abstract omits any important points from the full text.

The interactive example shown below describes an article about the relationship between business regulations and CO 2 emissions.

Rieger, A. (2019). Doing business and increasing emissions? An exploratory analysis of the impact of business regulation on CO 2 emissions. Human Ecology Review , 25 (1), 69–86. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964340

An evaluative annotation also describes the content of a source, but it goes on to evaluate elements like the validity of the source’s arguments and the appropriateness of its methods .

For example, the following annotation describes, and evaluates the effectiveness of, a book about the history of Western philosophy.

Kenny, A. (2010). A new history of Western philosophy: In four parts . Oxford University Press.

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annotated bibliography assignment prompt

A reflective annotation is similar to an evaluative one, but it focuses on the source’s usefulness or relevance to your own research.

Reflective annotations are often required when the point is to gather sources for a future research project, or to assess how they were used in a project you already completed.

The annotation below assesses the usefulness of a particular article for the author’s own research in the field of media studies.

Manovich, Lev. (2009). The practice of everyday (media) life: From mass consumption to mass cultural production? Critical Inquiry , 35 (2), 319–331. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/596645

Manovich’s article assesses the shift from a consumption-based media culture (in which media content is produced by a small number of professionals and consumed by a mass audience) to a production-based media culture (in which this mass audience is just as active in producing content as in consuming it). He is skeptical of some of the claims made about this cultural shift; specifically, he argues that the shift towards user-made content must be regarded as more reliant upon commercial media production than it is typically acknowledged to be. However, he regards web 2.0 as an exciting ongoing development for art and media production, citing its innovation and unpredictability.

The article is outdated in certain ways (it dates from 2009, before the launch of Instagram, to give just one example). Nevertheless, its critical engagement with the possibilities opened up for media production by the growth of social media is valuable in a general sense, and its conceptualization of these changes frequently applies just as well to more current social media platforms as it does to Myspace. Conceptually, I intend to draw on this article in my own analysis of the social dynamics of Twitter and Instagram.

Before you can write your annotations, you’ll need to find sources . If the annotated bibliography is part of the research process for a paper, your sources will be those you consult and cite as you prepare the paper. Otherwise, your assignment and your choice of topic will guide you in what kind of sources to look for.

Make sure that you’ve clearly defined your topic , and then consider what keywords are relevant to it, including variants of the terms. Use these keywords to search databases (e.g., Google Scholar ), using Boolean operators to refine your search.

Sources can include journal articles, books, and other source types , depending on the scope of the assignment. Read the abstracts or blurbs of the sources you find to see whether they’re relevant, and try exploring their bibliographies to discover more. If a particular source keeps showing up, it’s probably important.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate range of sources, read through them, taking notes that you can use to build up your annotations. You may even prefer to write your annotations as you go, while each source is fresh in your mind.

An annotated bibliography is an assignment where you collect sources on a specific topic and write an annotation for each source. An annotation is a short text that describes and sometimes evaluates the source.

Any credible sources on your topic can be included in an annotated bibliography . The exact sources you cover will vary depending on the assignment, but you should usually focus on collecting journal articles and scholarly books . When in doubt, utilize the CRAAP test !

Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs .

The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment. An annotation can be descriptive, meaning it just describes the source objectively; evaluative, meaning it assesses its usefulness; or reflective, meaning it explains how the source will be used in your own research .

A source annotation in an annotated bibliography fulfills a similar purpose to an abstract : they’re both intended to summarize the approach and key points of a source.

However, an annotation may also evaluate the source , discussing the validity and effectiveness of its arguments. Even if your annotation is purely descriptive , you may have a different perspective on the source from the author and highlight different key points.

You should never just copy text from the abstract for your annotation, as doing so constitutes plagiarism .

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Caulfield, J. (2022, August 23). What Is an Annotated Bibliography? | Examples & Format. Scribbr. Retrieved April 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/annotated-bibliography/

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annotated bibliography assignment prompt

1 Annotated Bibliography

Virginia Costello

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the rhetorical basis of the annotated bibliography genre
  • Conduct academic research drawing from multiple sources in multiple media
  • Write paragraphs that describe, evaluate, and/or summarize sources
  • Choose discipline-appropriate citation styles and citation managers

I. Introduction

The annotated bibliography comes in various forms and serves a variety of purposes. Thus, authors might include an annotated bibliography at the end of their text to offer further reading. Advanced students might be required to produce an extended annotated bibliography before they begin their dissertation. Professionals, such as those from the Bureau of International Labor Affairs and the U.S. Department of Labor, for example, might create an annotated bibliography to inform other scholars, policy-makers, and the general public :   Addressing Labor Rights in Colombia . Or, more importantly for the purposes of this chapter, students might create an annotated bibliography at the preliminary stage of their research, as it serves as a foundation for a larger project, like a college-level research paper.

Writing an annotated bibliography helps researchers organize their sources and gain perspective on the larger conversation about their topic . It is a list of sources (or a bibliography) divided into two parts: The first part, the citation, contains basic information about the source, such as the author’s name, the title of the work, and the date of publication. The second part contains individual paragraphs that describe, evaluate, or summarize each source.

As you will notice in the examples in this chapter, the number and type of sources (e.g., books, scholarly articles, government websites) required for an annotated bibliography vary, as do the requirements for each paragraph. If your wider goal is to create an annotated bibliography for your dissertation committee, you may need eighty scholarly sources (e.g., peer-reviewed articles, books on theory related to your topic, or recent studies that evaluate data), each followed by an evaluative paragraph. If, however, you are a first-year college student enrolled in an introductory research class, your instructor may require you to find, say, seven specific types of sources: four scholarly articles, two primary sources, and a chapter in a book. Your instructor might ask you to write a simple summary paragraph for each source and then add a sentence about how you plan to use the source in a final research paper.

If you have written a research paper before, then, in all likelihood, you have also created a list of the sources you referenced in the paper. Depending on the style of citation required (e.g., MLA, APA, CMS), that list might have been called Works Cited, R eferences, Endnotes, or, perhaps, Bibliography. Similar to these pages, citations in the annotated bibliography are often listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. Although the order of the information about the source varies depending on which citation style you use, most of the basic information required, such as the author’s name, the title of work, and the date of publication, does not. Unlike those pages that only list sources, in the annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a paragraph.

Example 1.1: Selection from a student paper in MLA format (8th Edition)

Prison Reform: Annotated Bibliography

Høidal, Are. “Prisoners’ Association as an Alternative to Solitary Confinement—Lessons Learned from a Norwegian High-Security Prison.”  Solitary Confinement. Effects, Practices, and Pathways toward Reform , Eds. Jules Lobel and Peter S. Smith. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2020, pp. 297–309.

In his piece about the effects of solitary confinement, Høidal draws attention to the 17th Section of the Norwegian Penal Code. This section of the code states that all inmates should be allowed to work with others during daytime hours. Norway, the inspiration for many modern-day prison reformations, is globally recognized for taking excellent care of its prisoners, as opposed to other countries, such as the United States. In this chapter, Høidal discusses and evaluates Norway’s idea that prisoners should have access to the community both within and outside the prison system during daytime hours. He mentions that Norway offers educational programs for prisoners because it aligns with what Norway views as the purpose of prisons and Section 17 of the Norwegian Penal Code: to rehabilitate. Inmates are nourished both physically and mentally so that upon their release, they can return as functioning members of society. This nourishment, Høidal concludes, also lessens the likelihood of re-conviction.

Tønseth, Christin, and Ragnhild Bergsland. “Prison Education in Norway – the Importance for Work and Life After Release.” Cogent Education. vol. 6, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-13, https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2019.1628408

Tønseth and Bergsland delve into the complexity of Norway’s prison education system. Norwegian prisons have introduced a transformative learning theory, one that argues that providing education can promote change in the learner. After enabling inmates to obtain an education, researchers noticed an increase in self-determination, an increase in self-esteem, and several social benefits. Tønseth and Bergsland show that learning, especially in the prison system, is more than merely obtaining knowledge. A new, mentally stimulating environment is associated with learning in prisons, which promotes self-growth, something that is very important to the people running the Norwegian Prison System. Research on the effects of different methods of rehabilitation on inmates is still being conducted; however, according to the authors, there is already a promising trajectory.

In the example above, the student’s paragraphs include each source’s main points, some context, and an occasional evaluative adjective or sentence. Before you begin your assignment, carefully read or reread the assignment prompt from your instructor .  If your assignment calls for descriptive and evaluative paragraphs, that means that you should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your sources’ arguments. You might also complete basic background information on the author and then discuss the author’s credibility. Some assignments may ask you to discuss the source’s relevance in the larger conversation of that particular discipline and/or to discuss the types of sources the author references.

If your assignment calls for summary paragraphs, you should identify the main points of each source and write those points in your own words, employing transitions to help create a unified paragraph (rather than a list of ideas). Summary paragraphs do not include your own opinion or quotations from the text. Whether you are writing descriptive, evaluative, or summary paragraphs, the main purpose is to provide enough information about the source so that readers can determine if they want to read the original. After reading and annotating your sources and writing your paragraphs, you will have a clearer understanding of the arguments other scholars are making about your topic. This understanding will help you situate or contextualize your own argument in your research paper. (See section VI. Writing Strategies in this chapter for detailed examples.)

Many students think that research is a linear process: choose a topic, research the topic, write the research paper. But it can be more helpful and productive to think of the process in a much less linear and restrictive way. The sources you include in your annotated bibliography, the first stage of your research, may not be the same as those you include in your final paper. In fact, as you narrow your focus, read more sources and allow your ideas to change, you will find yourself eliminating sources that are too broad, too narrow, or tangential to your focus. Your search for new sources should continue throughout the writing process. In other words, as mentioned in the introduction, and as you will see in this and other chapters of this text, the research process is complicated (and interesting) and, at some stages, nearly cyclical: the research you do informs the research you are going to do and re-situates the research you have completed.

“What we think we need to get started: a perfect map of the future. What we actually need: A general direction.”

Practical Guidelines and Considerations

Once you have a general understanding of the purpose and format of the final product, the annotated bibliography, you should thoughtfully choose your topic within the parameters of your assignment; choosing your topic is the beginning of your research.

Here is a simplified list of steps for developing your annotated bibliography, with names of sections in this chapter that provide more detail.

  • Choose a topic and, if your instructor requires it at this stage, develop a research question. (In this section, below)
  • Briefly consider the purpose and style of the assignment ( II. Rhetorical Considerations )
  • Create keywords and plug them into library databases or other search engines. ( IV. Research Strategies )
  • Choose appropriate sources from the database/search engine results. Read and annotate those sources. ( IV. Research Strategies and V. Reading Strategies )
  • Use your annotations on your sources to write evaluative, descriptive, or summary paragraphs. ( VI. Writing Strategies )
  • Choose a citation manager, identify an appropriate citation style, and alphabetize citations and paragraphs. ( III. The Annotated Bibliography Genre Across Disciplines )

Introductory research classes often offer a theme and require students to narrow their focus by choosing a topic within that theme. If your class offers a theme, you might narrow your focus by thinking about the topic through the lens of your major. Thus, for example, if your class has a theme such as prison reform and your major is architecture, you may wonder what architects consider as they build new prisons, or you might compare prison architecture in different countries, like the U.S. and Norway.

North Carolina State University Libraries offers this video, which might help you choose a topic.

Library Referral: Topic Development and Your Personal Angle

(by Annie R. Armstrong)

It might be tempting to ask someone, “What’s a good research topic?” While discussing possible topics with your classmates is a good idea, in the end, you should be the one providing that answer. Your personal investment in a topic can propel you through the thorniness of the research process. If your course has a set theme (e.g., sustainability, stand-up comedy, censorship, prison reform), consider your personal angle: what passions, interests, or causes excite you, and how might they be related to this theme?

Even if you say “cats,” or “video games,” you’ll be able to make a connection to the course theme that intrigues both you and your reader. There are always larger questions you can ask about these interests. For example, if you love cats: are you more broadly concerned with animal welfare? If your passion is video games: to what degree do you think they help or hinder the social lives of teens? Think about how you can “zoom in” or “zoom out,” to focus on both broad and narrow aspects of your topic.

Discuss your topic with a librarian to unearth new ideas and connections, and watch the video One Perfect Source? for an explanation of how to find sources for a topic.

Developing a Research Question

Some instructors may ask you to develop a research question before you begin your annotated bibliography. Others may instruct you to develop it in the proposal stage (see Chapter 3 ). In either case, at some point in the early stages of research, you will need to write a question that guides your research. It should be one that is focused, complex, and genuinely interests you. Writing the research question will help you narrow your focus and create keywords. The more time and thought you put into creating this question now, the easier it will be to complete your research and write the paper later.

Example 1.2 Here are a few student examples of research questions.

  • In what ways might the U.S. look to the Norwegian prison system as a model for prisoner rehabilitation?
  • To what extent can the U.S. incarceration system be reformed to be more cost-effective while at the same time helping prisoners undergo significant rehabilitation?
  • How has the reintroduction of wolves into the Yellowstone region affected the livelihood of cattle ranchers in the region?

Notice that these questions avoid a simple either/or binary (e.g., either we look to Norway for answers or we don’t). Language such as “in what ways” and “to what extent” open up the possibility of a range of answers.

While the answers to these questions will include factual, verifiable evidence (e.g., the kinds of rehabilitation programs the U.S. offers, the number of prisons in the U.S.), the questions themselves do not for ask for simple, factual answers. A factual question does not make a solid research question because it doesn’t present information upon which reasonable people might disagree, and it is easily answered. (Here is an example of a factual question, not a research question: How much does it cost to maintain the U.S. prison system? The question asks for a number, not a thoughtful argument.)

One way to begin writing the research question is with a timed writing exercise like the one below.

Write or type your topic at the top of a piece of paper or document. Set a timer for exactly six minutes. Once the timer begins, allow yourself to write every question that comes to mind about your topic, even if it might seem somewhat off-topic, mundane or simplistic. In other words, don’t censor yourself, and don’t worry about spelling or typos.   When you think about your topic, what aspect of it makes you curious? You might start with  how  or  why questions. Turn whatever comes into your head into a question. Continue writing for the entire time, even when your mind wanders and gives you a sentence like, “I don’t know what to write.” Turn it into a question: “I don’t know what to write?” Doing so keeps your mind moving and your handwriting. More importantly, it often helps you move on to a new idea.

When the time is up, read and categorize your questions. First, underline the factual questions. You may want to find the answers to those questions, but they are not research questions. Second, strike through the mind-wandering questions. Examine what you have left. Any question strike you? Can you develop a research question by combining the simple questions and adding, “to what extent,” or, “in what ways”? Remember that this is a draft research question and that you may revise it as you find more information about your topic. 

In general, your research question should guide your exploration of your topic rather than lead you to a preconceived answer or a belief you already hold. For example, if your topic is prison reform and you think private prisons are morally or ethically problematic, consider sources that take a variety of positions, not simply ones that point to what you already believe. Leave your mind open to finding sources that explain the complexities of the prison system, including reasons that states have relied on private prisons (such as relieving overcrowding issues). In other words, don’t avoid sources that seem to contradict or complicate your current position. When you read arguments that you find problematic and consider evidence that might not support your original ideas, you develop a wider understanding of your topic. Grappling with arguments that challenge your own ideas expands your ability to understand, address, and perhaps refute points and shows that you understand the larger conversation about your topic.

In short, let the research inform your position.

Note that this doesn’t mean you should suddenly change your position. It does mean that just as you do in a reasonable conversation, you should consider views and values other than your own. Then you reevaluate, modify, and/or fortify your original position.

More Resources 1.1: Research Questions

Here’s a link with more tips about How to Write a Research Question .

II. Rhetorical Considerations: Purpose and Style

Whether you are writing an annotated bibliography for a biology or anthropology class, a grant application, or a section at the end of a book, you will want to consider the purpose and style of your work.  If you are writing your annotated bibliography for a class, identify the parameters of the assignment and consider a few questions:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How many and what kind of sources do you need? (e.g., scholarly articles, books, government websites)
  • What citation style will you use? (e.g., AMA, APA, CMS, MLA)
  • What types of paragraphs should you write? (e.g., evaluative, descriptive, summary, or some combination)

In answering the last question, remember that some instructors will ask you to simply summarize each source. Others may want a summary and a sentence about how you will use each source, or a sentence that explains how each source will help you answer your research question. Still other instructors will ask for descriptive or evaluative information about your sources. You can find examples and further discussion of these types of paragraphs in the VI. Writing Strategies section of this chapter.

III. The Annotated Bibliography Genre Across Disciplines

Briefly examine the following annotated bibliographies written by academics and other professionals. These examples will provide you with a greater understanding of how your work in the classroom translates to the work in the profession. The first example, written by Professor Sue C. Patrick and published on the American Historical Association website, centers on primary sources and is part of a larger project: Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources | AHA .

Primary sources, which will be discussed in greater detail in the IV. Research Strategies section of this chapter, are those from a first-person perspective or a direct piece of evidence (e.g., constitutions, eyewitness accounts, diaries, letters, raw data). After each citation, Patrick provides an explanation of how she used the source as a part of a writing project for her students. If you navigate to the contents page of Patrick’s original project, you will see that this annotated bibliography is one small part of her project. The larger project offers a wide range of information for history instructors: Teaching Difficult Legal or Political Concepts: Using Online Primary Sources in Writing Assignments | AHA .

The second example, Parental Incarceration and Child Wellbeing: An Annotated Bibliography , focuses on quantitative research, which means that it centers around secondary sources. The author, Christopher Wildeman, professor of Policy Analysis and Management (and Sociology) at Cornell University, categorizes and summarizes studies that address the effects of paternal and maternal incarceration on children. In his summary paragraphs, Wildeman includes the data and final results of each study. Notice that he does not evaluate the information. Notice, too, that rather than listing all sources in alphabetical order, as students are generally required to do for their annotated bibliography, this author divides his annotated bibliography into sections, and each of those sections are in alphabetical order.

Example 1.3: Academic and Professional Examples

In order to provide context and to help you make connections between the work you complete in your classes and the work professionals do, examine a few more annotated bibliographies i n this  Box Folder . You will notice these annotated bibliographies include a wide range of citation styles, sources, and summary, description, or evaluation paragraphs.

These examples are meant to show you how this genre looks in other disciplines and professions. Make sure to follow the requirements for your own class, or seek out specific examples from your instructor in order to address the needs of your own assignment. 

Citation Styles

You may have noticed that in the annotated bibliographies linked above, the authors organized their source citations differently. The following video offers an introduction to citation styles.

Academic disciplines use different conventions for the style, placement, and format of their citations. You will find a few examples in the purple box below. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the citation style that professionals in your discipline use. For example, if you are premed, you may want to read the American Medical Association or AMA style guidelines. (Note that in-text citations which appear in the text of a research paper itself—rather than as a list—will be covered in Chapter 4 .)

Example 1.4: Examine the following examples of two sources cited in four different styles. What do you notice about the similarities and difference between these styles? What does your comparison tell you about the priorities of those who developed these styles?

AMA (American Medical Association)

Black B. The character of the self in ancient India : Priests, kings, and women in the early Upanisads. Ithaca: State University of New York Press; 2007. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uic/detail.action?docID=3407543.

Costello JF & Fisher SJ. The Placenta – Fast, Loose, and in Control. N Engl J Med . 2021; 385(1):87-89. doi:10.1056/NEJMcibr2106321

APA (American Psychological Association)

Black, B. (2007). The character of the self in ancient India : Priests, kings, and women in the early Upanisads . Ithaca: State University of New York Press. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uic/detail.action?docID=3407543

Costello, J. F., & Fisher, S. J. (2021). The placenta — fast, loose, and in control. The New England Journal of Medicine, 385 (1), 87-89. doi:10.1056/NEJMcibr2106321

CMS (Chicago Manual of Style)

Black, Brian. 2007. The Character of the Self in Ancient India : Priests, Kings, and Women in the Early Upanisads . Ithaca: State University of New York Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uic/detail.action?docID=3407543.

Costello, Joseph F., and Susan J. Fisher. 2021. “The Placenta — Fast, Loose, and in Control.” The New England Journal of Medicine 385 (1): 87-89. doi:10.1056/NEJMcibr2106321

MLA (Modern Language Association)

Black, Brian. The Character of the Self in Ancient India : Priests, Kings, and Women in the Early Upanisads. State University of New York Press, Ithaca, 2007, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uic/detail.action?docID=3407543.

Costello, Joseph F., and Susan J. Fisher. “The Placenta — Fast, Loose, and in Control.” The New England Journal of Medicine , vol. 385, no. 1, 2021, pp. 87-89, doi:10.1056/NEJMcibr2106321.

Behind each style of citation is a logic that is connected to the discipline. Professional groups from each discipline create these styles that reflect the values of that discipline.

AMA , for example, emphasizes collaboration among researchers, and so articles are often discussed with and written by more than one scholar. The titles of the journals are abbreviated, as readers are expected to know those names. Here are general guidelines for AMA General Style.

APA style citation begins with the author’s last name and first initial, followed by the year of publication in parenthesis. APA professionals are social scientists, and thus emphasize the date of publication because it is more important when something is published than, say, where it was published. When readers skim a list of citations in APA style, they can quickly see how the focus of the research has changed over the years. Here are general guidelines for APA General Format .

CMS incorporates two systems. Purdue OWL describes these as “the Notes-Bibliography System (NB), which is used by those working in literature, history, and the arts. The other documentation style, the Author-Date System, is nearly identical in content but slightly different in form and is preferred by those working in the social sciences.” Here are general guidelines for CMS General Format .

MLA is more often used in the humanities; it emphasizes the full name of the author and thus the creativity or individuality of the writer. The date of publication appears toward the end of the citation. Here are general guidelines for MLA Format and Style .

Although we are only addressing styles of citations for the purpose of creating an annotated bibliography, these styles also require a specific document format. So, for example, if you are writing a research paper in APA style, you may use section headings, place page numbers in the upper righthand corner of every page, and title your citations page “References.” MLA style requires a header with your last name, a space and the page number on every page (except the first), and the citation page is called “Works Cited.”

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help keep your research organized and create individual citations as well as bibliographies in the proper style for your discipline. Your library may offer programs such as RefWorks or EndNote or provide links to open-source programs such as Zotero . If you want help deciding which tool is best for your project, click here: How to Choose a Citation Manager.

These tools are useful, but you will still want to understand the basic conventions of the citation style that you are using so that you can spot errors. Proofread carefully. Stick to one style of citation and do your best not to confuse it with another style—something that is easy to do if, for example, you are reading articles that use APA style, but you are writing in MLA style. Note also that the styles change with each new handbook edition. So for example, the most recent MLA Handbook (9 th edition) was updated in 2021. Fortunately, Zotero and other citation mangers will offer you an option of not only style, but also edition (e.g., MLA 8 th or 9 th edition).

IV. Research Strategies: Finding, Identifying, and Using Sources

Before you begin your library research, list at least seven keywords or phrases. These are words that describe your topic. Your list might begin with the most basic nouns (e.g., prison, mental health) and then become more personalized and specific (e.g., mass incarceration, schizophrenia). If you have written a research question, identify the keywords in that question. List the nouns and verbs and then find synonyms.

More Resources 1.2: Search Strategies

The following video offers suggestions on how to use keywords in your research question to create more keywords: Savvy Search Strategy

Here’s another short video on searching databases using Boolean logic: How Should I Search in a Database?

Types of Sources

Your instructor might require you to find sources from general categories, like primary or secondary sources. Alternatively, she might outline something more specific, such as peer-reviewed articles, ebooks, interviews, or book reviews. A few categories worth recognizing at the onset of your research include primary vs. secondary sources, popular vs. scholarly sources, and peer-reviewed journals and articles. Whatever your requirements, you should be choosy about your sources; do not simply settle for the first ones you find. Skim or read the sources before you count on them to help you develop your argument. Don’t be afraid to reject a few. Research is a process, and not every search will yield good results. Furthermore, if you simply accept all the sources you find on your first keyword search, you may have problems tying things together later.

Primary sources are those that offer firsthand accounts, like witness statements from an accident or crime, diaries, personal letters, interviews, photographs like the one of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her son Charles, or flyers like the one that lists lectures Emma Goldman gave in Portland in 1915 (see Figure 1.2 and Figure 1.3 below).

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, with her son Charles Aked Barnett, circa 1917-1919.

A secondary source analyzes a primary source or other secondary sources. The image of the campaign card in Figure 1.4 is a primary source, but when a scholar writes and publishes an analysis of this source and refers to other sources that, say, describe the Republican Party principles as outlined in 1928 and why Wells-Barnett wanted to be a part of the party, then that analysis (the scholar’s work) becomes a secondary source.

Campaign card of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, activist, journalist, teacher, and anti-lynching crusader. Support for her candidacy is requested as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, June 1928. Credit: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-08621, Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

When you are trying to determine if a source is primary or secondary, pay attention to the author’s language. For example, examine Jessica Dillard-Wright’s abstract below .

Screenshot of a scholarly journal abstract

Here’s the text for the entire abstract:

In the middle of the paragraph, she states, “I draw on anarchist, abolitionist, posthuman, Black feminist, new materialist and other big ideas to plant seeds of generative insurrection and creative resistance.” In this sentence, the writer points out how she builds her argument and analysis on the work of others, meaning that it is a secondary source. Another clear indication that this is a secondary source lies in the bibliography. Here’s a selection from the first page of Dillard-Wright’s citations.

Ashley, J. A. (1980). Power in structured misogyny: Implications for the politics of care. Advances in Nursing Science , 2(3), 2–22.

Benjamin, R. (2018). Black afterlives matter: Cultivating kinfulness as reproductive justice. In A. Clarke, & D. Haraway (Eds.), Making kin not population (pp. 41–66). Prickly Paradigm Press.

Benjamin, R. (2020). Black skin, white masks: Racism, vulnerability, and refuting blackpathology. Department of African American Studies. https://aas.princeton.edu/news/black-skin-white-masks-racism-vulnerability-refuting-black-pathology

Braidotti, R. (2020). “We” are in this together, but we are not one and the same. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry , 17(4), 465–469. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-10017-8

Butler, J. (2002). Is kinship always already heterosexual? Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studie s, 13(1), 14–44.

Chinn, P. (2020, May 21). Nursing in the Anthropocene. Advances in Nursing Science Blo g. https://ansjournalblog.com/2020/05/21/nursing-in-the-anthropocene

Choy, C. (2003). Empire of care: Nursing and migration in Filipino American history . Duke University Press.

Connolly, C. A. (2010). “I am a trained nurse”: The nursing identity of anarchist and radical Emma Goldman. Nursing History Revie w, 18, 84–99.

Davis, A. Y. (2020, October 6). Why arguments against abolition inevitably fail. Medium . https://level.medium.com/why-arguments-against-abolition-inevitably-fail-991342b8d042

Although the difference between primary and secondary sources may seem obvious now, consider this complication. On one hand, a recent article from a newspaper may be considered a secondary source, as the reporter might have talked to witnesses or other people involved. On the other hand, a newspaper article from 1920 might be considered a primary source because it provides a historical perspective.

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

A scholarly source employs technical or discipline-specific language, is written for a narrow audience (specific scholars), and always includes a bibliography or list of sources. A popular source is one that employs more accessible language, appeals to a wider audience, and often includes photos or images.

Most instructors will require you to use library databases to find sources, but may allow you to use search engines such as Google or Google Scholar later in the course, when you have a clearer understanding of the wider conversation around your topic and how you might use these sources. Academics (and the greater educated world) consider sources found in the library databases or through the library search box as reliable and credible. They also recognize that rather than a simple line between reliable and unreliable sources, there is a spectrum, which simply means that some sources are more credible than others.

For example, some academics consider peer-reviewed journals such as The Prison Journal more credible than popular sources such as Psychology Today , both of which are available through many academic library databases. Articles published in The Prison Journal undergo a rigorous peer review process, which means that a variety of experts in the field read and comment on a draft of the article. Often, the writer has to revise and resubmit the draft before the editor approves it and the final article is published. Articles published in Psychology Today are written by authorities on a particular subject but do not go through a peer-review process. Generally, editors are the only ones that read submissions to determine if they are worthy of publication. Although the process of publication is different, both types of articles offer valuable and useful research.

In general, we accept that sources found through library search engines and databases are reliable; they are worthy of thoughtful consideration and analysis. There are many sources found outside the library that are reliable, too, but determining the reliability of the source becomes more of a challenge. Here are questions to consider when evaluating the reliability of a source:

  • What’s the writer’s purpose in creating the source? Is the source meant to entertain, provide news, or both? Is it meant to educate, persuade, scandalize, or sell a product or service, or does it have a different purpose altogether?
  • Is the source built on credible sources? (Check the credibility of the sources in the bibliography.)
  • Is the author an authority on the subject? Does the author refer to other authorities? (Check the author’s background and experience.)
  • Does the source provide verifiable evidence and facts to support claims?

More Resources 1.3: Questions for Analyzing Sources

Library Referral: Searching is Experimental

Think of searching library databases and catalogs as an experiment rather than a linear process. It may get messy and lead you in unexpected directions. The databases can’t interpret natural language, so you’ll need to boil your topic down to a few keywords. See the Choosing Keywords video for a full illustration of this process.

Your first search won’t be your last! Experiment with different keywords and gather more sources than you think you’ll actually need. Once you start reading and learning more about your topic, you may discover that some of your sources are only tangentially connected to the direction in which you want to take your topic.

The focus of your research changes as you become more knowledgeable about the topic.

Searching a variety of research databases and catalogs will open the door to a broader range of viewpoints from different academic disciplines and publication types (think books, book chapters, scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, newspapers, and popular/mainstream magazines).

Library Databases

Once you know what kind of sources you need for your assignment (e.g., primary or secondary, popular or scholarly) and you have a list of keywords, examine library databases. Libraries buy subscriptions to two basic types of databases: general or multidisciplinary (e.g., JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, ProQuest) and subject-specific (e.g., Psycinfo, AccessAnesthesiology, Embase, Excerpta Medica). Unlike Web-based searches, library databases offer quality controls. Articles have been reviewed by professional editors and fact-checked before they are published in academic journals. Database companies, like JSTOR, buy subscriptions to these journals, organize, and categorize them.

For introductory research courses, you will want to start with the general and multidisciplinary databases. Plug your keywords into the database search box. Skim the titles for appropriate sources. As you progress and find more information on your topic, you may want to use the subject-specific databases.

As you are researching your topic, pay attention to the types of sources you find. If your source is from the New York Times, for example, is it a news story or an opinion piece? If it’s a video, is it a documentary or a TED Talk? What difference does the type of source make? The answer to this question depends, in part, on how you will use the source. Will you use a source as background information or evidence to support your argument? Will you use the source to present a claim that opposes your argument and then refute that claim by providing factual or authoritative evidence? You may not know how you will use a source when you first find it, but it’s worth thinking about the different ways a source can be put to use. See Chapter 4 for more about how to use sources once you start writing your research essay.

Finding More Keywords

After you type the keywords in library search boxes or databases, you may need to narrow or expand your search, depending on your results. If your topic is prison reform, for example, you will need to choose an angle. Start by asking questions about your topic, and think about choosing a lens through which to view your topic. Even if it seems obvious, start with the basics: What do you know about your topic? Can you use something you already know about or have an intense interest in as a lens through which to view your topic?

For example, if architecture students are interested in this topic, they might ask questions about what the architecture of U.S. prisons tells us about how we understand punishment and rehabilitation. When you find a scholarly article worth reading, examine the list of words under the headings Keywords, Subject, or Author’s Key Terms and look for more words to add to your own list.

Abstract page of a scholarly journal article highlighting the Keywords section, including the keyword phrase "carceral geography"

In the example above, the list of keywords appears below the abstract: “ethical prison architecture, prison design, carceral geography, environmental psychology, prisoner wellbeing, prison climate.” While architecture students may have searched databases with keywords like “prison architecture” or “prison design,” they may not have thought of “carceral geography,” a phrase worthy of another database search.

Beyond the Library: Sources on the Web

Thus far, we focused on finding sources through academic or public library databases. For a wider search that includes reliable sources which may not be available through the library, such as an organization’s website (e.g., The Marshall Project which collects articles published about the prison system), use common search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. These search engines use algorithms based on popularity, previous searches, commercial investment, location, and relevance, rather than on keywords and combinations of keywords, like library databases. This means that you will want to approach these sources with a healthy dose of skepticism: Double-check facts (see links to fact checkers in the last part of this section) and ask questions about the people, organizations, corporations, or businesses behind the sources you find using common search engines.

Generally, .com or commercial sites do not consistently offer information suitable in length, breadth, or reliability to be referenced in a research paper. The major exception to this rule is reliable newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The  Guardian . Reliable news outlets may report on a groundbreaking discovery from NASA and will explain that discovery in terms a non-expert will understand, but they will also provide a link to the study so that an expert (or a researcher like you) can examine the original.

If you want to save yourself the frustration of sifting through many .com sites, try searching domains that end in .edu. In the Google search box, type Site:edu and then add a keyword or phrase, like “prison reform.” Thus, you would write, Site:edu prison reform . You can also use this formula for sites ending in .gov or .org. These three domains tend to offer more credible information than .com, but, again, you should critically analyze the websites rather than simply accepting the information as accurate. Evaluate the source by asking questions like those listed in the previous section.

If you want to go in a different direction, search for websites that professionals in your discipline use and search the bibliographies posted there. For example, professionals in the life sciences use bioRxiv , a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished manuscripts. It’s a place where professionals deposit their papers for comments before they submit them to journals for publication.

Social Media

While you would not want to use information on social media to support an argument you are making in an academic research paper, the effect and use of these outlets might be worthy of note. Thus, for example, you might ask about the patterns of use of social media like Twitter. Tweets offer fragments of ideas, and they are not particularly useful when you are writing a research paper, but if social scientists collect these primary sources, they might notice patterns that tell us something about politics and culture. More generally, they might study tweets and their influence on how and what people think. The Pew Research Center ( https://www.pewresearch.org) , a nonpartisan, non-advocacy group, collects and analyzes tweets.

Checking for Accuracy: Here’s the Principle

That Beyoncé tweeted something in particular is easily certifiable by finding the tweet in which she made the claim. However, consider a separate question: Is what Beyoncé said true? This is the more difficult question to answer, as you need to find verifiable evidence. You will need to look for evidence that is an authoritative confirmation of a claim. Authoritative confirmation means that someone, or better yet several someones, in authority on the subject support the claim and perhaps offer data, statistics, or facts.

Beyoncé may have millions of followers, and thus what she tweets influences what her followers think, but does that make what she says accurate or factual? No, of course not. She may be an expert in making music, but she is not an expert in all things. She clearly influences people, and that is worthy of note if your research question asks something about how social media influencers gain popularity.

If you come across information that you are not sure is accurate, whether you found it in a scholarly source or on a website, use a reliable fact checker, like the ones listed below, and find out what the experts say.

  • Center for Disease Control
  • Fact Checker – The Washington Post
  • Reuters Fact Check
  • FactCheck.org

More Resources 1.4: Assessing Sources

V. Reading Strategies: Skim, Annotate, Summarize, and Evaluate

When you find a source that looks interesting, skim, don’t read it (yet). Because we are wary of the message it sends to students, some instructors hesitate to admit that skimming is a valid reading and research tool. Skimming allows you to search through many resources in a short amount of time and is a generally acceptable method of determining whether a source is appropriate for your project.

When you are searching for sources on the library databases, skim article abstracts, as they offer a short summary of the argument in the paper. Also skim introductions, headings, conclusions, and citation pages. Skimming is not, of course, a substitute for thoughtfully reading your sources before you begin writing your final paper. Here’s a helpful video on how to read a scholarly article:

More Resources 1.5: Reading Scholarly Articles

Notice that the scholars interviewed in “How to Read a Scholarly Article” all start by skimming the abstract and then, if the source seems appealing and appropriate, they read the abstract but also still skim (or skip altogether) other sections of the article.

Some instructors will expect you to have read and annotated all of your sources before you draft your annotated bibliography assignment. Annotating, in this context, means marking up the text by underlining or paraphrasing important points, commenting on claims the author makes, or asking questions of the text. The word “annotated” that modifies the word “bibliography” refers to the paragraphs that are written based on the comments or annotations you made on each source.

Examine the annotations below. You may want to use the standard pen-and-paper method and write on the text itself (Figure 1.7), or you may want to use programs or apps such as Adobe, Diigo, or Notability to annotate a text electronically (Figure 1.8). ​​

A sample annotated text. A few written paragraphs are marked up by a reader who underlines key words and phrases, then writes observations and questions about the text in the margins, such as "How do governments rest on violence?" and "So is poverty the greatest evil?"

Annotating Video and Visual Sources

Traditionally, students annotate documentaries by simply taking notes with pen and paper. They keep track of important points and the times when those points occur. So, for example, in the video   Anatomy of a Scholarly Article | NC State University Libraries mentioned in the previous section, you might pause the video and note the time that the important point occurs. For example, at 1:32 (one minute and thirty-two seconds from the beginning of the video), the speaker defines an abstract of article, so your notes might look like this:

1:32: An abstract is a summary of the article, usually under 150 words

More recent and sophisticated ways of annotating videos include downloading software programs that allow you to take notes directly on a video—a TED Talk video posted on YouTube, for example. Some programs allow you to use a split screen to watch the video, take notes on a document, and link those notes to specific parts of the video. Others, like YiNote and Transnote, allow you to take time-stamped notes while watching videos.

VI. Writing Strategies: Turning Annotations into an Annotated Bibliography

The annotations you have written on your sources become the fodder for the descriptive, evaluative, or summative paragraphs you need to write after each citation in your annotated bibliography.

Let’s look at a few specific examples and explore the style and tone of each. The descriptive and evaluative (also called “annotated”) are probably the most common, so we will start here. This paragraph might provide some background information on the author, place the author’s argument in the context of the field or discipline, and evaluate the claims and evidence provided in the source.

Example 1.5: Here’s an annotated example with an MLA style citation from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign library guide .

The first sentence in italics and yellow highlight summarize s the argument . The bolded and blue highlighted phrases offer an evaluation , and the underlined and orange highlighted phrase identifies the larger conversation in that discipline.

Gilbert, Pam. “From Voice to Text: Reconsidering Writing and Reading in the English Classroom.” English Education , vol. 23, no. 4, 1991, pp. 195-211.

Gilbert provides some insight into the concept of “voice” in textual interpretation, and points to a need to move away from the search for voice in reading . Her reasons stem from a growing danger of “social and critical illiteracy,” which might be better dealt with through a move toward different textual understandings . Gilbert suggests that theories of language as a social practice can be more useful in teaching. Her ideas seem to disagree with those who believe in a dominant voice in writing , but she presents an interesting perspective .

Example 1.6: Here’s an example of an APA style (7th edition, 2019) citation and a slightly different evaluative paragraph from the Cornell Libraries .

The first sentence offers a little background information on the authors. The bulk of the paragraph is italicized and highlighted yellow to show where it summarizes the authors’ hypothesis and the results of their findings . The last line in this paragraph is underlined and highlighted orange to show where it makes a comparison to another study. This sentence shows that the writer is aware of the larger conversation happening in this discipline. Other paragraphs might focus more on the author’s credentials (degree, employment, experience), author’s reliability, and main points of the source.

Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review , 51, 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Example 1.7: For comparison, here’s the same citation in MLA style, 8th edition.

Waite, Linda J., et al. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review , vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.

Example 1.8: Finally, here’s an example of a paragraph that primarily summarizes and then indicates how the student plans to use the source in the final paper.

The first sentence is underlined and highlighted orange to show the conversation and what the author is arguing against . The middle sentences are italicized and highlighted yellow to show where the author summarizes the main points of the chapter , and the final sentence is bolded and highlighted blue to show how the student will use this source in the final paper.

Thorp, Thomas. “Thinking Wolves.” The Philosophy of the Midwest . Eds. Josh Hayes, Gerard Kuperus, and Brian Treanor. Routledge, 2020. pp. 71-89.

Thorp claims that philosophers and scientists, motivated by a desire to increase our care and respect for non-human animals, have begun to question all of the traditional distinctions between humans and other animals. Beginning with a political analysis of the attitudes of western ranchers toward the return of wolves to the Yellowstone region, Thorp argues that our human reasoning is importantly and essentially different from animal cognition, for example, what wolves do when they hunt. He concludes that only humans have the capacity to be truly responsible for our choices, including our choices about how to care for the natural world. This source offers a foundation on which I will build my argument about the cognitive differences between animals and humans.

Example 1.9: More Samples

Whatever your discipline or particular assignment, remember that the best annotated bibliographies build their own credibility by referring to the credibility of their sources.

Key Takeaways

  • Before you dive into the research, identify the parameters of your assignment and examine a model or example.
  • Use the lens of your interests or academic discipline to choose a relevant topic.
  • Create keywords and plug them into library databases or other search engines.
  • Sift through the results and allocate time to read (or skim) and annotate sources.
  • Use your annotations to write paragraphs that evaluate, describe, or summarize each source.
  • Choose a citation manager and identify an appropriate citation style.
  • Alphabetize and/or categorize citations and paragraphs.

Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition . Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition – Purdue OWL® – Purdue University. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html?edu_mode=on

Dillard-Wright, J. (2021). A radical imagination for nursing: Generative insurrection, creative resistance.   Nursing Philosophy ,  23 , e12371.  https://doi-org.proxy.cc.uic.edu/10.1111/nup.12371

Davis, B. W. (2021). Zen pathways : An introduction to the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism. Oxford University Press, Incorporated.

“Emma Goldman Lectures in Portland, Oregon, August 1, 1915.” Jewish Women’s Archive. https://jwa.org/media/handbill-advertising-group-of-lectures-by-goldman-in-portland-oregon

Fosslien, Liz. (2022). What We Think . https://www.fosslien.com/

Mueller, S. (2005). “Documentation styles and discipline-specific values,” The Writing Lab Newsletter. Vol. 29, No. 6, pp. 6-9.

Patrick, S. C. “Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources. Teaching Difficult Legal or Political Concepts: Using Online Primary Sources in Writing Assignments.” American Historical Association. https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/teaching-and-learning-in-the-digital-age/the-history-of-the-americas/teaching-difficult-legal-or-political-concepts/annotated-bibliography-of-primary-sources

Wells, I. B.  Campaign card of anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1928. Credit: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-08621, Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Writing for Inquiry and Research Copyright © 2023 by Virginia Costello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Annotated Bibliography Assignment


Note to instructors: This annotated bibliography assignment may be used as a stand-alone project, or it may be used as part of an ongoing research project. You are encouraged to adopt, adapt, or remix these guidelines to suit your goals for your class. 

Due dates 

Rough Draft:  Peer Review:  Final Draft:  

 This assignment will help you become aware of how writers and researchers review and become familiar with previous work on a topic before they begin additional research.  

  • Skills : This assignment will help you practice skills essential to success in and beyond this course:  Locate a variety of scholarly print and digital sources that represent multiple perspectives on a topic.   Analyze sources by critically reading, annotating, engaging, comparing, and drawing implications.
  • Methods for conducting research
  • Analytical reading and writing strategies   

An annotated bibliography is an alphabetized list of source citations that includes an annotation underneath each entry. In your annotated bibliography, each of your source citations will include an annotation summarizing the source and describing the aim, purpose, and relevance to your research project.  

You will develop an annotated bibliography containing five academic sources as well as a discussion of what you learned from your research. Your annotated bibliography should have three parts: an introduction, a discussion of sources, and a conclusion. 

  Introduction, 150-200 words 

In the introduction, present your research topic. Consider the following: Why does this topic interest you personally? (Finding a topic that interests you leads to a better paper.) Why should others care about this topic? Why is your topic worth researching? What were your research questions? 

 Discussion of Sources, 150-200 words per source 

Gather at least five sources on your topic. Two of these sources must come from academic journals (peer-reviewed, scholarly, found using GALILEO), but the others may come from credible newspapers and magazines. One of the sources may be chosen from a website, but this site should be from a reliable organization like The Associated Press or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Articles from GALILEO databases are not considered internet sources. Read and reread each source carefully.    Once you have selected your sources and read them carefully, write annotations for each. Each annotation should . . . 

  • Include a brief summary of the source.
  • Evaluate the source and its use in your research.
  • Discuss relation of the source to your other sources. Consider whether sources agree or disagree with/contradict each other.
  • Comment on the source’s reliability. 

Write citations in MLA, 9th edition, format. Summarize the articles using your own words. List your entries alphabetically and check them carefully for mistakes in MLA documentation.    Here are two sample annotations: link.  

 Conclusion, 150-200 words 

In the conclusion, detail the most important contributions your sources make to your research topic; you may also point out commonalities, conflicts, or problems. Include a discussion of what your review of your sources has demonstrated about the topic. Consider the following: What is your preliminary thesis? Did your research create new questions for you? What sources (in addition to those listed in your discussion) do you need to find? What possible conclusions to your questions do you foresee? 

  Final Directions 

Remember to properly cite any information from your sources that you use in your introduction and conclusion. Be sure that your summaries are very different from the abstracts of the articles you have read.  

 Formatting requirements 

Follow MLA format. Use black Calibri or Times New Roman font in size 12. Double-space the entire document. Use 1-inch margins on all sides.  

Criteria for Success

 general criteria: .

  • The writing is clear and coherent/makes sense.
  • The tone and language are appropriate for the audience.
  • The writer has gone through the entire writing process, revising substantially and thoughtfully.
  • The writing adheres to grammar and punctuation rules. 

 In the introduction, you should . . . 

  • Present your research topic.
  • Clarify why this topic matters and is worth researching.
  • Ensure your introduction is 150-200 words. 

In the source discussion section, you should . . . 

  • Include at least five scholarly sources from reliable sources.  
  • Alphabetize your entries.  
  • Ensure each annotation includes complete and accurate works cited information following MLA format.
  • Briefly summarize each source.
  • Ensure each annotation contains an explanation of how the source will be used in your research project.
  • Note difference of opinions among sources.
  • Comment on the reliability of each source.
  • Ensure annotations are in your own words, not copied from abstracts or the source itself.
  • Ensure each annotation is 150-200 words. 

In the conclusion, you should . . . 

  • Detail the most important contributions your sources make to your research topic.
  • Include a discussion of what your review of your sources has demonstrated about your research topic.
  • Identify your preliminary thesis.
  • Identify new questions that have arisen as a result of your research.
  • Discuss sources (in addition to those listed in your discussion) you still need to find.
  • Identify any possible conclusions to your questions that you foresee. 

 The annotated bibliography should adhere to all formatting criteria: 

  • Follow MLA format for all citations.
  • The entire document should be double-spaced.  
  • The font should be Calibri or Times New Roman in size 12.
  • The margins should be one inch on all sides.


This material was developed by the COMPSS team and is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License . All materials created by the COMPSS team are free to use and can be adopted, adapted, and/or shared at will as long as the materials are attributed. Please keep this information on COMPSS materials you adapt, adopt, and/or share.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography - APA Style (7th Edition)

What is an annotation, how is an annotation different from an abstract, what is an annotated bibliography, types of annotated bibliographies, descriptive or informative, analytical or critical, to get started.

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, website, or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, website, or other type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations.

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract; it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question and its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

For example:

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulties many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a legal nurse consulting business. Pointing out issues of work-life balance, as well as the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, the author offers their personal experience as a learning tool. The process of becoming an entrepreneur is not often discussed in relation to nursing, and rarely delves into only the first year of starting a new business. Time management, maintaining an existing job, decision-making, and knowing yourself in order to market yourself are discussed with some detail. The author goes on to describe how important both the nursing professional community will be to a new business, and the importance of mentorship as both the mentee and mentor in individual success that can be found through professional connections. The article’s focus on practical advice for nurses seeking to start their own business does not detract from the advice about universal struggles of entrepreneurship makes this an article of interest to a wide-ranging audience.

An analytical or critical annotation not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.

Analytical or critical annotations will most likely be required when writing for a college-level course.

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulty many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a nurse consulting business. While the article focuses on issues of work-life balance, the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, marketing, and other business issues the author’s offer of only their personal experience is brief with few or no alternative solutions provided. There is no mention throughout the article of making use of other research about starting a new business and being successful. While relying on the anecdotal advice for their list of issues, the author does reference other business resources such as the Small Business Administration to help with business planning and professional organizations that can help with mentorships. The article is a good resource for those wanting to start their own legal nurse consulting business, a good first advice article even. However, entrepreneurs should also use more business research studies focused on starting a new business, with strategies against known or expected pitfalls and issues new businesses face, and for help on topics the author did not touch in this abbreviated list of lessons learned.

Now you are ready to begin writing your own annotated bibliography.

  • Choose your sources - Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the items - Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • The purpose of the work
  • A summary of its content
  • Information about the author(s)
  • For what type of audience the work is written
  • Its relevance to the topic
  • Any special or unique features about the material
  • Research methodology
  • The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he or she prefers.

Please see the  APA Examples page  for more information on citing in APA style.

  • Last Updated: Aug 8, 2023 11:27 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.umgc.edu/annotated-bibliography-apa


How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

annotated bibliography guide with examples

Instructors and professors often assign annotated bibliography assignments either as an independent assignment or as part of another assignment. When given as an independent assignment, you (the student) are expected to write a stand-alone annotated bibliography in the assigned format. Here, you gather and read sources that support your given topic and then annotate each.

However, when assigned as part of an assignment, you first complete the assignment, e.g., case study, research paper, thesis, dissertation, research proposal, essay, or term paper, then write your annotated bibliography just before the references page.

Your professor or instructor might prefer it otherwise, but they should state that in the assignment prompt.

Whichever the case, you are already here probably because you want to learn how to create an annotated bibliography. This article covers the definition of annotated bibliography, examples of the most common annotated bibliography in different formats (APA, MLA, and Chicago), and steps you need to take to write a top-grade annotated bibliography. This article features expert advice from our annotated bibliography writers . 

What is an annotated bibliography?:Definition

An annotated bibliography refers to a list of or organized sources of reference with a short descriptive text ( the annotation ) for every source. It is more of a reference list with some short text under each full bibliographic citation of a source.

The annotation is a concise analysis, evaluation, or summary of the content of the source, the authors, and the relevance to the topic.

An annotated bibliography can also be casually referred to as an annotated bib . It recounts the research available on a topic.

Like a reference list, an annotated bibliography has an alphabetical order. It can either describe the sources, evaluate the sources, or describe the importance of the sources in given research or for a given topic of interest.

Depending on the assignment at hand, annotated bibliographies can be meant for reflection, summarizing, critiquing, evaluating, or analyzing the source.

To reiterate, annotated bibliographies culminate into a  research paper , essay , term paper ,  dissertation , thesis, or literature review.

Why write an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography has many purposes. First, when assigned as part of a larger assignment, it helps you familiarize yourself with the material available on a given topic. Second, doing so enables you to develop arguments, establish connections, and give examples that help you write a solid paper on the topic.

An annotated bibliography also helps review depth and content in the literature on a subject, which helps develop your thesis and the upcoming paper.

An annotated bib also helps you select high-quality scholarly sources that might be of interest when writing your paper.

It also helps to explore and organize sources for future research. Equally, you can exemplify the scope of the sources such as websites, journal articles, peer-reviewed articles, or books, highlighting their significance to your research.

Still, an annotated bibliography will help you show to your instructor the depth and quality of research and reading you've done on a given topic.

In rare cases, an annotated bibliography can help you develop an outline for your paper. It also helps plan how to write an essay or a literature review, making sense since it gives you a bigger picture.

An annotated bibliography should always cover the most current sources; at most, we recommend using sources within the last five years. Typically, this is because older references can have confusing or outdated information.

Types of Annotated Bibliography

We can classify an annotated bibliography based on the purpose of writing one. There are two major types of annotated bibliographies: descriptive or informative and analytical or critical annotated bibliography .

As the name suggests, the descriptive annotated bibliography provides a summary or an outlook of the source. It does so like an abstract. In this type, always focus on the arguments of the author, the findings, and the conclusions of the study. It further describes how a particular source is helpful for a research topic or question.

An informative annotated bibliography also outlines the chief arguments and conclusions of the author (s) without evaluating the findings. The informative or descriptive annotated bibliography is meant for a layperson or general audience.

The analytical or critical annotated bibliography goes beyond the summary of the source, which entails critically analyzing the source. Its focus is usually on the strengths and limitations of the study in question. They are also the ones where you describe the conclusion of the author and its place in your research.

An analytical annotated bibliography also describes the applicability of the conclusions of the authors (s) to the current research and analyzes what the authors conclude. The audience here is always an expert, knowledgeable people, or your professor/instructor, which means it should be comprehensive.

If your professor does not specify the type of annotated bib, please find a balance between the two types. Having a common ground makes you be in a better position of getting the best grades. However, our analysis concludes that most annotated bibliography assignments require you to write analytical or critical annotations.

Different Types of Annotations

Annotations are written differently depending on the focus and approach of an annotated bibliography. Annotations define the content you will look for in a source. You can determine the type of annotations your instructor wants by looking at the instructions. There are five types of annotation : informative, descriptive, evaluative, reflective, and combination annotation.

Informative Annotation

An informative or summative annotation summarizes the source. However, unlike the descriptive annotation, it presents the actual information, including the thesis, argument or hypothesis, proofs, and results or conclusions about the source.

It does not delve into the relevance of a source to your paper or any critical remarks that evaluate the quality of the source. Instead, it is neutral.

Descriptive Annotation

You will write descriptive annotations or indicative annotations when the assignment is about gathering and summarizing information, establishing the key arguments, and highlighting the methods used by the author (s) for each source.

Like an abstract, the descriptive annotation summarizes the approach and arguments of a specific source objectively without assessing its validity.

It also explicitly summarizes the source or summary of the text. It summarizes the main points and can include chapter titles. Further, it describes the content and states the principal argument of a source.

Evaluative Annotation

Critical, analytical, or evaluative annotation analyzes the source or text. Apart from summarizing the essential ideas, it also provides critical analysis about the quality of the source. When writing this annotation, consider:

  • The usefulness of the test in your research project or future assignment
  • The title of the author
  • Bias in reporting results
  • Limitations and strengths of the source
  • Accuracy of the information
  • The expertise of the author (s)
  • The way the source compares other works on the topic
  • Contribution of the source to the literature of the subject
  • The intended audience
  • Level of difficulty
  • Evidence level (for nursing papers)
  • Authority of the publisher

In short, apart from summarizing or describing the content of a source, an evaluative annotation goes further to present the validity of the arguments of the source and the relevance of the methods of the source.

Reflective annotations

When the aim of writing an annotated bibliography is to gather sources for a future research project or to evaluate how the sources sit in an already completed project, you will use a reflective annotation.

A reflective annotation, just like the evaluative annotation, describes the content of the source, evaluates the reliability and validity of the arguments and the methods. In addition, however, it evaluates the usefulness of these sources or their relevance to your paper or research.

Below is a sample reflective annotation

Sample Reflective Annotation

Sourced from: UNSW, Sydney . 

Combination annotation

Most of the scholarly annotated bibliographies assigned in class are a combination of evaluative, informative, and descriptive annotations. They often include one or two sentences that summarize or describes the content and sentences that evaluate the source. As shown before, a critical or analytical annotated bibliography is always a better approach as it comprehensively captures everything about a source.

The contents of an Annotated Bibliography

When writing an annotated bibliography, it is important to consider the word limit set in the assignment rubric. However, each paragraph should be between 100-200 words.

Depending on the length of your annotated bibliography, each annotation must include the elements below:

  • Full bibliographic information in APA, ASA, MLA, Harvard, or Turabian.
  • The background of the authors.
  • Content and scope of the source being annotated.
  • Outline of the major argument.
  • Intended audience.
  • Research methods in the study.
  • Findings and conclusion of the authors.
  • Special features of the text such as graphs or charts.
  • Reliability and validity of the text.
  • The relevance of the text to the current study.
  • Thematic significance of the text given the course content.
  • Any strengths and weaknesses of the text.
  • Your view on the content or what your reaction is after reading.

It is always important that when writing an annotated bibliography; you consider the formatting. Typically, an annotated bibliography can be in MLA, ASA, Harvard, or APA.

The three parts of an annotated Bibliography

As you shall see in the examples we have provided, an annotated bibliography has three essential parts: the title

Power Words to Use in your Annotated Bibliography

When learning how to write an annotated bibliography, some specific vocabulary and strings can strengthen your writing.  These tips are from a trusted annotated bibliography maker. Here are some:

  • The evidence shows that
  • Distinguish
  • Investigate
  • Indicate that
  • The article vividly paints a picture of
  • The author outlines that

Annotated Bibliography vs. Abstract and Literature Review

Although often confused, there are glaring differences between abstract, annotated bibliography, and literature reviews. When you are a novice academic writer, you need to understand the difference, even as you hunt for an annotated bibliography guide for dummies.

An annotation is a short synopsis of a given scholarly source. A literature review refers to a paper where you review and tie together concepts from previously published research or scholarly sources to support and fortify your thesis. 

A literature review, just like an annotated bibliography, can be an entire paper on its own. The major difference is that a literature review does not have annotations and complete bibliographic references as part of its content.

Mainly, a literature review further suggests the direction of research, attempts to answer a research question, and presents the gaps in the existing literature. In addition, a literature review often helps shape the scope of the paper and the perspective of the writer.

An abstract differs from an annotated bibliography because it is part of a research paper. Abstracts condense a research paper, term paper, proposal, thesis, reports, or dissertations focusing on the topic, problem statement, purpose of research, method, findings, and conclusions. Abstracts help students understand whether a specific source is suitable for their research when selecting sources to use. However, when written, they inform the reader of what to expect.

Abstracts are summaries and not necessarily evaluative as annotated bibliographies. Besides, abstracts do not have citations and annotations. Length-wise, abstracts are between 150 and 250 words long.

Steps when writing an annotated bibliography assignment

Now that we know everything about annotated bibliographies, it is time to cover the steps required to write an annotated bibliography that scores you an A+ grade.

Creating an annotated bibliography needs work, skills, and patience. But, it helps make you a better researcher. As long as you follow the steps recommended by your professor in creating annotations and citations, you get that A grade.

Below are the steps:

First step: Read the assignment prompt

Like any other piece of assignment, it is imperative to read the annotated bibliography instructions provided by your professor or instructors. As stated before, reading the instructions helps you limit the sources you are selecting and determines the type of annotations you will be writing.

Reading instructions also help you to understand the length of each annotation and the preferred format to write your annotated bibliography.

Second Step: Find and select the suitable sources

Having read the instructions, it is now time to find the most suitable sources for your annotated bibliography.

If you are writing an annotated bibliography that is part of a research process culminating into a paper, your sources are the same ones that you will consult as you write your paper. However, if it is an independent assignment, your choice of a topic determines the sources that you will use.

As an annotated bibliography contains lists of references, you must choose quality sources. For this reason, we insist you avoid using annotated bibliography generators because they do not have the discretion of selecting scholarly sources.  Instead, trust experienced academic essay writers  to write your papers or write one on your own.

It is also essential to define the scope and extent of your research, which helps in setting the inclusion and exclusion criteria for each source.

Your annotated bibliography should attempt to explain why the sources apply to the current research area or paper.

  • What is the problem under investigation?

Here, it is vital to consider the questions the research is seeking to answer. For example, if the annotation is on a stand-alone topic like , The effects of Artificial Intelligence, be sure to frame a question on the topic.

  • Which sources fit answering the research questions?

Mostly, you are looking at scholarly sources. These sources should include but are not limited to government publications, peer-reviewed journals, policy statements, annual company reports, CSR reports, Newspaper articles from the trusted press, and primary historical.

  • Are the studies recent and relevant to the research questions?

Always choose the studies that align well with the topic or research question.

With a clearly defined topic, consider the keywords that apply to your annotated bib. You can then list variants of the applicable terms and use them as keywords to search for sources from scholarly databases such as JSTOR, Google Scholar, PubMed, or Project Muse. Your sources can include journals, books, periodicals, thesis, dissertations, websites, magazine articles, and other scholarly sources that pass the CRAAP test or RAVEN source analysis tool .

Third Step: Organize, Read, and evaluate the sources

Once you have selected the best sources, organize the sources using an online bibliography tool or citation management tool. The tool helps to organize the bibliography in alphabetical order, which makes writing and formatting easier.

Once the organization is done, read through your sources, take notes on each, and mark major points to write your annotations seamlessly. If you are keen enough, you can write the annotations as you go, which ensures that you write fresh ideas for each annotation.

Remember to determine the type of annotation based on the instructions. Then, once you understand the purpose of your assignment, you can pick an annotation approach that befits the current annotated bib assignment.

Fourth Step: Write your annotations

For every source, write a complete reference with the author, title, date, and other relevant information per the preferred citation style. It should be a citation as would appear in a reference list, reference page, or bibliography page. The most common styles include MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago formats.

Write annotations of between 100 and 200 words in length. However, the length is bound to vary depending on the word count of your annotated bibliography assignment, the length specified by the instructor, or the importance of various sources as well as the number of sources. Choose an annotation approach that befits the purpose of the assignment.

Fifth Step: Format your annotated bibliography

Each annotation in an annotated bibliography should be from 150-200 words or 4-6 sentences long. This means that each should be concise and well-written. However, if you have longer than 200-word annotations, you are allowed to divide them into paragraphs. Some annotations can also be shorter, especially if they are written in Chicago format style.

An annotated bibliography has three major parts: The main title of the entire annotated bibliography,  the citation information ( the full bibliographic reference in APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago format) for each source, the annotation (150-200 words), and the reference list. If asked to do so, you can include a reference list or leave it out because the citation for each annotation stands as a reference list.

In most cases, annotated bibliographies are formatted in MLA, APA, Harvard, or Chicago. However, you can also be assigned to write an annotated bibliography in ASA, AMA, CSE, and other formats.

annotated bibliography assignment prompt

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Annotated Bibliographies

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What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (references) to books, articles, and documents followed by a brief summary, analysis or evaluation, usually between 100-300 words, of the sources that are cited in the paper.  This summary provides a description of the contents of the source and may also include evaluative comments, such as the relevance, accuracy and quality of the source.  These summaries are known as annotations. 

  • Annotated bibliographies are completed before a paper is written
  • They can be stand-along assignments
  • They can be used as a reference tool as a person works on their paper

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the descriptive summaries of article contents found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles that are written by the article author(s) or editor. Their purpose is to inform a reader about the topic, methodology, results and conclusion of the research of the article's author(s).  The summaries are provided so that a researcher can determine whether or not the article may have information of interest to them.  Abstracts do not serve an evaluative purpose.

Annotations found in bibliographies are evaluations of sources cited in a paper.  They describe a work, but also critique the source by examining the author’s point of view, the strengths and weakness of the research or article hypothesis or how well the author presented their research or findings.

How to write an annotated bibliography

The creation of an annotated bibliography is a three-step process. It starts with finding and evaluating sources for your paper. Next is choosing the type or category of annotation, then writing the annotation for each different source. The final step is to choose a citation style for the bibliography.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Types of Annotations

Annotations come in different types, the one to use depends on the instructor’s assignment.  Annotations can be descriptive, a summary, or an  evaluation or a combination of descriptive and evaluation.

Descriptive/Summarizing Annotations

There are two kinds of descriptive or summarizing annotations, informative or indicative, depending on what is most important for a reader to learn about a source.  Descriptive/summarizing annotations provide a brief overview or summary of the source. This can include a description of the contents and a statement of the main argument or position of the article as well as a summary of the main points.  It may also describe why the source would be useful for the paper’s topic or question. 

Indicative annotations provide a quick overview of the source, the kinds of questions/topics/issues or main points that are addressed by the source, but do not include information from the argument or position itself.

Informative annotations, like indicative annotations, provide a brief summary of the source.   In addition, an informative annotation identifies the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source.  When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to the topic under discussion.  However, they do not provide information about the sources usefulness to the paper or contains analytical or critical information about the source’s quality. 

Evaluative Annotations (also known as critical or analytical)

Evaluative annotations go beyond just summarizing the source and listing out it’s key points, but also analyzes the content. It looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the article’s argument, the reliability of the presented information as well as any biases of the author. It talks about how the source may be useful to a particular field of study or the person’s research project.

Combination Annotations

Combination annotations “combine” aspects from indicative/informative and evaluative annotations and are the most common category of annotated bibliography.  Combination annotations include one to two sentences summarizing or describing content, in addition to one or more sentences providing an critical evaluation.

Writing Style for Annotations

Annotations typically follow three specific formats depending on how long they are.

  • Phrases – Short phrases providing the information in a quick, concise manner.
  • Sentences – Complete sentences with proper punctuation and grammar, but are short and concise.
  • Paragraphs – Longer annotations break the information out into different paragraphs. This format is very effective for combination annotations.

To sum it up:

An annotation may include the following information:

  • A brief summary or overview of the source content
  • The source’s strengths and weaknesses in presenting the argument or position
  • Its conclusions
  • Why the source is relevant in to field of study of the paper
  • Its relationships to other studies in the field
  • An evaluation of the research methodology (if applicable)
  • Information about the author’s background and potential biases
  • Conclusions about the usefulness of the source for the paper

Critically Analyzing Articles

In order to write an annotation for a paper source, you need to first read and then critically analyze it:

  • Try to identify the topic of the source -- what is it about and is it clearly stated.
  • See if you can identify the purpose of the author(s) in doing the research or writing about the topic. Is it to survey and summarize research on a topic?  Is the author(s) presenting an argument based on previous research, or refuting previously published research?
  • Identify the research methods used and try to identify whether they appear to be suitable or not for the stated purpose of the research.  
  • Was the research reported in a consistent or clear manner?  Or, was the author's argument/position presented in a consistent or convincing manner? Did the author(s) fail to acknowledge and explain any limitations?
  • Was the logic of the research/argument claims properly supported with convincing evidence/analysis/data? Did you spot any fallacies?
  • Check whether the author(s) refers to other research and if similar studies have been done. 
  • If illustrations or charts are used, are they effective in presenting information?
  • Analyze the sources that were used by the author(s). Did the author(s) miss any important studies they should have considered?
  • Your opinion of the source -- do you agree with or are convinced of the findings?  
  • Your estimation of the source’s contribution to knowledge and its implications or applications to the field of study.

Worksheet for Taking Notes for Critical Analysis of Sources/Articles

Additional Resources:

Hofmann, B., Magelssen, M. In pursuit of goodness in bioethics: analysis of an exemplary article. BMC Med Ethics 19, 60 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-018-0299-9

Jansen, M., & Ellerton, P. (2018). How to read an ethics paper. Journal of Medical Ethics, 44(12), 810-813.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2018-104997

Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library  Critically Analyzing Information Sources: Critical Appraisal and Analysis

Formatting An Annotated Bibliography

How do I format my annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation.

The citation should be formatted in the bibliographic style that your instructor has requested for the paper. Some common citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago. For more information on citation styles, see Writing Guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological & Health Sciences .

Many databases (e.g., PubMed, Academic Search Premier, Library Search on library homepage, and Google Scholar) offer the option of creating your references in various citation styles. 

Look for the "cite" link -- see examples for the following resources:

University of Minnesota Library Search

Library Search Citation and List

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Citation List

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

An example of an Evaluative Annotation , APA style (7th ed). (sample from University Libraries, University of Nevada ).

APA does not have specific formatting rules for annotations, just for the citation and bibliography.

Maak, T. (2007). Responsible leadership, stakeholder engagement, and the emergence of social capital. Journal of Business Ethics, 74, 329-343.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9510-5

This article focuses on the role of social capital in responsible leadership. It looks at both the social networks that a leader builds within an organization, and the links that a leader creates with external stakeholders. Maak’s main aim with this article seems to be to persuade people of the importance of continued research into the abilities that a leader requires and how they can be acquired. The focus on the world of multinational business means that for readers outside this world many of the conclusions seem rather obvious (be part of the solution not part of the problem). In spite of this, the article provides useful background information on the topic of responsible leadership and definitions of social capital which are relevant to an analysis of a public servant.

An example of an Evaluative Annotation , MLA Style (10th ed), (sample from Columbia College, Vancouver, Canada )

MLA style requires double-spacing (not shown here) and paragraph indentations.

London, Herbert. “Five Myths of the Television Age.” Television Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, Mar. 1982, pp. 81-69.

     Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and author of several books and articles, explains how television contradicts five commonly believed ideas. He uses specific examples of events seen on television, such as the assassination of John Kennedy, to illustrate his points. His examples have been selected to contradict such truisms as: “seeing is believing”; “a picture is worth a thousand words”; and “satisfaction is its own reward.” London uses logical arguments to support his ideas which are his personal opinion. He does not refer to any previous works on the topic. London’s style and vocabulary would make the article of interest to any reader. The article clearly illustrates London’s points, but does not explore their implications leaving the reader with many unanswered questions.

Additional Resources

University Libraries Tutorial --  Tutorial: What are citations?  Completing this tutorial you will:

  • Understand what citations are
  • Recognize why they are important
  • Create and use citations in your papers and other scholarly work

University of Minnesota Resources

Beatty, L., & Cochran, C. (2020). Writing the annotated bibliography : A guide for students & researchers . New York, NY: Routledge. [ebook] 

Efron, S., Ravid, R., & ProQuest. (2019). Writing the literature review : A practical guide . New York: The Guilford Press. [ebook -- see Chapter 6 on Evaluating Research Articles] 

Center for Writing: Student Writing Support

  • Critical reading strategies
  • Common Writing Projects (includes resources for literature reviews & analyzing research articles)

Resources from Other Libraries

Annotated Bibliographies (The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Writing An Annotated Bibliography (University of Toronto)

Annotated Bibliographies (Purdue Writing Lab, Purdue University)

Annotated Bibliography (UNSW Sydney)

What is an annotated bibliography? (Santiago Canyon College Library): Oct 17, 2017. 3:47 min.

Writing an annotated bibliography (EasyBib.com) Oct 22, 2020. 4:53 min.

Creating an annotated bibliography (Laurier University Library, Waterloo, Ontario)/ Apr 3, 2019, 3:32 min.

How to create an annotated bibliography: MLA (JamesTheDLC) Oct 23, 2019. 3:03 min.

Citing Sources


Citations are brief notations in the body of a research paper that point to a source in the bibliography or references cited section.

If your paper quotes, paraphrases, summarizes the work of someone else, you need to use citations.

Citation style guides such as APA, Chicago and MLA provide detailed instructions on how citations and bibliographies should be formatted.

Health Sciences Research Toolkit

Resources, tips, and guidelines to help you through the research process., finding information.

Library Research Checklist Helpful hints for starting a library research project.

Search Strategy Checklist and Tips Helpful tips on how to develop a literature search strategy.

Boolean Operators: A Cheat Sheet Boolean logic (named after mathematician George Boole) is a system of logic to designed to yield optimal search results. The Boolean operators, AND, OR, and NOT, help you construct a logical search. Boolean operators act on sets -- groups of records containing a particular word or concept.

Literature Searching Overview and tips on how to conduct a literature search.

Health Statistics and Data Sources Health related statistics and data sources are increasingly available on the Internet. They can be found already neatly packaged, or as raw data sets. The most reliable data comes from governmental sources or health-care professional organizations.

Evaluating Information

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources in the Health Sciences Understand what are considered primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

Scholarly vs Popular Journals/Magazines How to determine what are scholarly journals vs trade or popular magazines.

Identifying Peer-Reviewed Journals A “peer-reviewed” or “refereed” journal is one in which the articles it contains have been examined by people with credentials in the article’s field of study before it is published.

Evaluating Web  Resources When searching for information on the Internet, it is important to be aware of the quality of the information being presented to you. Keep in mind that anyone can host a web site. To be sure that the information you are looking at is credible and of value.

Conducting Research Through An Anti-Racism Lens This guide is for students, staff, and faculty who are incorporating an anti-racist lens at all stages of the research life cycle.

Understanding Research Study Designs Covers case studies, randomized control trials, systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

Qualitative Studies Overview of what is a qualitative study and how to recognize, find and critically appraise.

Writing and Publishing

Citing Sources Citations are brief notations in the body of a research paper that point to a source in the bibliography or references cited section.

Structure of a Research Paper Reports of research studies usually follow the IMRAD format. IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results, [and] Discussion) is a mnemonic for the major components of a scientific paper. These elements are included in the overall structure of a research paper.

Top Reasons for Non-Acceptance of Scientific Articles Avoid these mistakes when preparing an article for publication.

Annotated Bibliographies Guide on how to create an annotated bibliography.

Writing guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological and Health Sciences Style manuals, citation guides as well as information on public access policies, copyright and plagiarism.

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  • Describe the citation and annotation of an annotated bibliography.

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Annotated Bibliography

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Earlier in the text, you explored a topic that you want to further research. in this section, you’re going to find sources using formal scholarly research, evaluate and write annotations for those sources, and use MLA citation to create works cited entries.

This second major assignment for English Composition II courses is called an annotated bibliography . For this assignment you’ll find a number of sources (some of which will be scholarly, peer-reviewed and compose works cited entries and annotations for these sources. The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to give a review of the most important research you’ve found and evaluate their worthiness to be included in your research project. Your instructor will have specific guidelines for the number and types of sources to be included in this assignment.

The annotations are divided into three parts: a summary, an evaluation, and a plan to use the source. The summary should give a quick, objective description of the source, usually involving the thesis and context for the source. After that, the bulk of the annotation should be an evaluation , which you’ll conduct a critical analysis of the source, judging its credibility, accuracy, and authority as a source. You’ll end the annotation with a plan to use the source in your own research project, telling how this source can support your argument and purpose.

The annotated bibliography as a whole will be formatted using MLA 8 citation. Each source will have a works cited entry followed immediately by the annotation.

For this section we focus on critical analysis and knowledge.  Critical Analysis : “critical analysis is a careful examination and evaluation of a text, image, or other work or performance…[to] help us understand the interaction of the particular elements that contribute to a work’s power and effectiveness” (Richard Nordquist). Knowledge is “facts or ideas acquired by study, observation, or experience” (Merriam-Webster)

Context is the circumstances surrounding an issue that the rhetorician must consider in discussing the issue.  In other words, before we begin writing an argumentative research essay, we must first consider who needs to hear our message ( audience ), why they need to hear our message ( exigence ), and with whom we wish to confer in order to exchange ideas and information to form a solid foundation for our argument ( discourse community ).

Important Concepts

annotated bibliography


plan to use the source

Reflective Writing Prompt

Annotated Bibliography 

In a two-part response OR [In the format of a dialogue, create a conversation that includes you and several (2 – 3)] of your sources you selected for your Annotated Bibliography. Create a conversation] that demonstrates how you learned from your sources specific knowledge about the topic itself and the writing assignment. Use some of the following questions to guide your thinking:

Part 1: In 300-400 words: what did you learn about writing with sources from constructing this Annotated Bibliography? What kinds of rhetorical knowledge and critical analysis skills did you draw on to produce this project? Using specific details from your own writing, explain how your understanding of context contributed to your final decisions.

Part 2: In 300-400 words, which of the key terms did you use to form the basis of your theory of writing? For example, how did you draw upon an understanding of audience awareness or genre (both important features of context) in your selection of source materials? How do you see opportunities to apply this in other courses when asked to write a research project?


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  • Video 1: What’s an annotated bibliography?   by Brock Library .  License: Standard YouTube License.

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Create an Annotated Bibliography: Create an Annotated Bibliography

Welcome to the MC Library research skills guide on annotated bibliography. This guide is designed to help you understand what an annotated bibliography is and learn the process of creating one.

Terms in this Guide

  • Abstract: A summary or brief description of the full article or another longer work.
  • Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document.
  • Citation: A citation is a reference to a book, article, video, website, or other information source for the purpose of giving credit to the author. Citations also give more credibility to your work because your readers can find out exactly where you got the information.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotation is a brief note on each of the sources used in your research paper.  Annotated bibliography is a list of these annotated sources. An annotated bibliography informs the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source cited. The process of creating an annotated bibliography involves critical thinking.

Create an Annotated Bibliography in Four Steps

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Step 1: Understand the Assignment

Make sure you understand which citation style you need to use (MLA? APA?) and the level of detail your professor expects in your annotations.

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Step 2: Find Your Sources

Locate sources that are relevant to your research topic. If you're not sure where to start, look at MC Library's subject research guides, or do a simple keyword search in RaptorSearch.

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Step 3. Cite Your Sources

Create citations for each of your sources using the citation style your professor requires.

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Step 4: Annotate Your Sources

Evaluate and reflect upon each source format by asking yourself who the author is, where they got their information, and whether the information is reliable and accurate. Consider how each source compares to other sources you selected. In your annotation, explain why you want to use the source and how it complements your argument.

Know the Difference: Annotated Bibliography vs Abstract vs Review

Abstract vs Annotated Bibliography

An abstract is a descriptive summary of the source.

An annotated bibliography describes the source and critically evaluates it!

Literature Review vs Annotated Bibliography

A literature review combines more than one source under one theme and provides a general analysis.

An annotated bibliography examines each source separately and critically evaluates it for accuracy and relevance to the research topic.

Research Cycle

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Additional Help

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Learn more about creating an annotated bibliography and see examples using the links below.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: Annotated Bibliography Examples

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Module 6 assignment: annotated bibliography.

The Annotated Bibliography assignment is an exercise in collection, curation, critical reading, and summary. Continuing with the same topic and research question you identified in the Topic Proposal assignment, you will compile a list of related academic and/or professional sources and write critical summaries of each source.

Think of your audience for the annotated bibliography as a well-informed member of the corresponding academic discipline’s discourse community who may not be familiar with your specific topic. Remember what you learned about perspective and bias to construct your identity as the writer in relation to your imagined readers.

  • Build a cohesive collection of academic and/or professional sources about a selected topic for future research
  • Summarize the selected sources, identifying their purpose, major points, and contributions to the discipline’s knowledge on the topic
  • Two of these sources may be professional sources published within the last 10 years about the topic you have identified for your research project.
  • Skim the articles you found to determine their relevance to the topic and potential usefulness for your future research. If necessary, continue searching and replace sources you originally found to complete your list.
  • After skimming and selecting your articles, carefully read each of them, taking critical notes as you read. When writing your notes include the thesis/argument, major findings/points, and gaps/flaws/limitations.
  • Write a one-paragraph summary of each source, identifying its purpose, major points, and how it fits with your research topic.
  • Write an accurate APA or MLA style citation of each source.
  • Write a 250-300 word introduction to your annotated bibliography in which you reflect on main ideas, trends, and divergences that you noticed in your sources.

The completed annotated bibliography should include 8 source annotations and an introductory paragraph and should follow the following format guidelines:

  • Double-spaced, standard font and margins
  • APA or MLA style citations
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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.


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.

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Why assign an annotated bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies play a useful role in a scaffolded, semester long research project. Students can practice:

  • Finding sources in library databases
  • Evaluating sources for relevancy and authority
  • Paraphrasing and quoting sources properly
  • Using sources as evidence to support arguments

Things to consider:

  • Find Articles
  • Evaluate Sources 
  • Identifying Popular, Scholarly & Trade
  • Guides to paraphrasing and direct quotes from our Writing Center
  • Do your students know the unique roles played in research by primary, popular and scholarly info?
  • Have you talked to them about what makes 'good' evidence in your discipline?
  • Have you given them a target for number of sources required for the paper? Sometimes a range is best, as in, "Students who are successful in this assignment use more than X sources, but no more than X are usually necessary."
  • NoodleTools is a free and helpful citation manager for your students. Users can create annotated bibliographies, use notecards to pull notes, quotations and paraphrasing from sources, and organize the sources into an outline. They can then share the project with you online, or export it as a document. Sample lesson plan here .
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Common Assignments: Example

The example annotation below includes the citation, a summary in the first paragraph, the critique/analysis in the second paragraph, and the application in the third paragraph.

Gathman, A. C., & Nessan, C. L. (1997). Fowler's stages of faith development in an honors science-and-religion seminar. Zygon , 32 (3), 407–414.  https://doi.org/10.1111/0591-2385.00099

The authors described the construction and rationale of an honors course in science and religion that was pedagogically based on Lawson's learning cycle model. In Lawson's model, the student writes a short paper on a subject before a presentation of the material and then writes a longer paper reevaluating and supporting his or her views. Using content analysis, the authors compared the students' answers in the first and second essays, evaluating them based on Fowler's stages of development. The authors presented examples of student writing with their analysis of the students' faith stages. The results demonstrated development in stages 2 through 5.

The authors made no mention of how to support spiritual development in the course. There was no correlation between grades and level of faith development. Instead, they were interested in the interface between religion and science, teaching material on ways of knowing, creation myths, evolutionary theory, and ethics. They exposed students to Fowler's ideas but did not relate the faith development theory to student work in the classroom. There appears to have been no effort to modify the course content based on the predominant stage of development, and it is probably a credit to their teaching that they were able to conduct the course with such diversity in student faith development. However, since Fowler's work is based largely within a Western Christian setting, some attention to differences in faith among class members would have been a useful addition to the study. 

Fowler's work would seem to lend itself to research of this sort, but this model is the only example found in recent literature. This study demonstrates the best use of the model, which is assessment. While the theory claimed high predictive ability, the change process that the authors chronicled is so slow and idiosyncratic that it would be difficult to design and implement research that had as its goal measurement of movement in a faith development continuum.

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Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography Topics

Caleb S.

200+ Annotated Bibliography Topics for Different Categories

21 min read

annotated bibliography topics

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Learn Annotated Bibliography Templates

Searching for a good topic to write your essay or research paper and create your annotated bibliography? 

Creating and writing an annotated bibliography is different from writing a list of references or an abstract. The list of references includes an alphabetical list of the works used in the paper while the abstract is a short and brief summary of the paper. 

However, writing it becomes more difficult when you don’t know which topic you should write about.

But don’t worry! Read the blog to know how to find a good paper topic that could also be used for writing an extensive and detailed annotated bibliography.

Let's begin!

Arrow Down

  • 1. A Brief Introduction to Annotated Bibliography
  • 2. Sports Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 3. Good Annotated Bibliography Topics For Social Work
  • 4. Annotated Bibliography Topics In Healthcare
  • 5. Annotated Bibliography Topics for Mental Health
  • 6. Annotated Bibliography Topics for Psychology
  • 7. Communication Annotated Bibliography
  • 8. Feminism Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 9. Animal Testing Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 10. Annotated Bibliography Topics For Education
  • 11. Engineering Topics for Annotated Bibliography
  • 12. World History Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 13. Annotated Bibliography Topics for Criminal Justice
  • 14. Annotated Bibliography Topics Business
  • 15. Religion Topics for Annotated Bibliography
  • 16. Annotated Bibliography for Ethics and Morals
  • 17. Annotated Bibliography Topics for Nursing
  • 18. Annotated Bibliography Topics for Technology
  • 19. Annotated Bibliography Topics For English
  • 20. Critical Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 21. Fun Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 22. Persuasive Annotated Bibliography Topics
  • 23. Annotated Bibliography Essay Topics for Music
  • 24. What Makes a Good Annotated Bibliography Topic?
  • 25. How to Choose the Right Topic for an Annotated Bibliography?
  • 26. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

A Brief Introduction to Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a detailed and extensive list of references. It includes the analysis and explanation of the given citations and references. The format includes the citation, its explanation, analysis, and personal opinion.

By giving a personal opinion, the student explains the reasons why he has chosen the given references and how they influence the research. It is different from writing a simple list of references and it is definitely different from writing an abstract.

Check out the video below to get a better understanding of annotated bibliography:

Finding good annotated bibliography ideas could be hard, but we are here to help you out. Continue reading to find a list of annotated bibliography topics. 

Sports Annotated Bibliography Topics

Sports have always been a hot topic for both high school and college students. Since circumstances related to games and sports keep on changing, the student must choose a trending topic. Here are some examples of annotated bibliography topics for sports:.

  • What are the different types and elements of coaching?
  • What are the effects of gender inequality in sports?
  • How do politics affect the quality of sports?
  • What kinds of issues sports management can have as a result of undue interference?
  • Explain sports fixing. How does it affect the overall sports scenario?
  • What are athletes doping? How can it be controlled and managed?
  • Why is banning athletes using steroids necessary?
  • What are the benefits of promoting sports in developing countries?
  • Should sports be compulsory in schools, high schools, and colleges? Explain.
  • Businesses dealing in sports should be under the state’s law. Explain its pros and cons.

Good Annotated Bibliography Topics For Social Work

Annotated bibliography topics for sociology are incredibly varied, but here are a few to get you started: 

  • The Impact of Social Work on Mental Health: A Systematic Review
  • How Poverty Impacts Education Outcomes Among Young Children
  • The Role of Community Parks in Promoting Health 
  • An Exploration of Homelessness Prevention in Urban Environments 
  • The Impact of Social Work on Health Disparities
  • Exploring Resilience and Coping Strategies of Refugees 
  • The Role of Social Media in Influencing Political Attitudes and Behaviors 
  • An Analysis of Bullying Prevention Programs in Schools
  • Understanding the Challenges Faced by Adolescents with Disabilities 
  • Exploring the Impact of Social Work on Health

Annotated Bibliography Topics In Healthcare

Healthcare is one of the main subjects for students who are studying to become a doctor or enter the medical field in any other role.  Here are some topic ideas:

  • Explain human cloning and its pros and cons.
  • What is the paleo diet lifestyle? Explain the health benefits of the paleo diet.
  • Humans are frugivores as well as omnivores. Explain the claim with evidence.
  • Explain the beginnings and origins of biology as a separate subject. How did it get its present structure?
  • Explain biophysics. How is this newly found study discipline changing the face of health technology?
  • What is food intolerance? What are the main causes of it and how to prevent it?
  • What are the causes of allergic reactions like an anaphylactic shock? Explain the reasons and the ways to prevent it.
  • How does telemedicine impact the accessibility and quality of healthcare services?
  • What are the psychological effects of long-term hospitalization on pediatric patients?
  • How can healthcare disparities in underserved communities be effectively addressed and reduced?

Annotated Bibliography Topics for Mental Health

Mental health is a critical theme which offers opportunities for in-depth research.  Here are some topics:

  • The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: A Comprehensive Review
  • The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Adult Mental Health Outcomes
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
  • The Role of Nutrition and Diet in Promoting Positive Mental Health
  • Exploring the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health and Its Impact on Help-Seeking Behaviors
  • The Intersection of Mental Health and Substance Abuse: A Literature Review
  • Mental Health in the Workplace: Strategies for Employee Well-being
  • The Influence of Family Dynamics on Adolescent Mental Health
  • Comparative Analysis of Mental Health Policies and Services Across Countries
  • The Connection Between Exercise and Positive Mental Health Outcomes: An Annotated Review

Annotated Bibliography Topics for Psychology

Psychology explores various aspects of human behavior and mental health. It is very common for students of psychology to write detailed annotated bibliographies during their research.

Here are some of the topics related to psychology that can help you out:

  • Analyze the efficacy of group therapy vs. individual therapy for autistic children.
  • How does having a child with autism affect a parents’ lifestyle?
  • How to increase knowledge among teenagers about drug and substance abuse?
  • Explain the negative effects of depression on young adults and adults. How is depression an unanswered issue in our society?
  • Explain the biological reasons for condemning stereotypes and depression related to it.
  • How to identify people with suicidal tendencies and help them with it?
  • How do veterans go through PTSD and what can we do to prevent it?
  • The influence of parenting styles on child behavior and mental health
  • Psychological effects of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The role of emotional intelligence in leadership and workplace success

Communication Annotated Bibliography

Great communication is essential for a great and successful business and personal relationships. Here are a few topics to help you get the conversation started:

  • Explain how advertising works as a mode of communication.
  • How does advertising influence the consumption of a product in the marketplace?
  • How does cross-cultural advertising work and what impact does it have on overall advertising efforts?
  • How does technology influence advertising and communications?
  • Explain the concept of location-based advertising in communications.
  • How to use mobile phones in uplifting the promotional efforts of the businesses?
  • How to measure the level of involvement of the audience in the advertising efforts?
  • The role of social media in modern communication strategies
  • Crisis communication: Strategies and outcomes
  • Interpersonal communication in workplace relationships

Feminism Annotated Bibliography Topics

Feminism is a broad topic and preparing an annotated bibliography about it could be time-consuming. Here some good annotated bibliography topics below:

  • Explain how women are making their place in the business world. What challenges do they have to face and how do they manage them?
  • How is the role of a woman revolutionized in our society? How are women filling into more non-mainstream roles?
  • How does sports management discriminate against women? Besides, also discuss how women are not given leading reporting roles in sports reporting.
  • What is the role of governments in perpetuating patriarchal structures towards women?
  • What are the pros and cons of the defunding of Planned Parenthood in America? How has the bill affected women’s lives in the country?
  • Should women be allowed to compete against men in some sports? Explain the pros and cons.
  • Women are still kept away from core sports. Why is the decision unfair?
  • How do feminist movements address economic disparities among women?
  • What is the role of the media in perpetuating or challenging traditional gender roles in society?
  • Are there gender biases in the healthcare industry, and how do they affect women's well-being?

Animal Testing Annotated Bibliography Topics

Animal testing is a common and well-known phenomenon in the research world. Medical fields use animals for various testing purposes. However, whether animal testing is legal and ethical or not is still a point of debate for many.

Some of the interesting topics related to animal testing are given below:

  • How can stem cell research end the need for animal testing?
  • How do animal testing and trials affect the reputation of beauty brands?
  • Explain the pros and cons of medicine trials on rats and rabbits.
  • How do the acquired results compare to the human findings?
  • Explain some significant benefits and disadvantages of animal testing.
  • Analyze human testing against animal testing.
  • What are the origins of animal testing?
  • Is there a viable alternative to animal testing in pharmaceutical research?
  • What ethical considerations surround the use of primates in biomedical research?
  • How do regulatory frameworks differ in various countries regarding animal testing for cosmetics?

Annotated Bibliography Topics For Education

Education is important for kids but like any other field, the educational field also needs advancement.

Below are some easy annotated bibliography topics on education:

  • What are the effects of the teacher’s teaching methods on the student’s performance?
  • Benefits of instilling ethics in kids from an early age.
  • How does racial discrimination affect the educational system in the US?
  • Common curriculum vs. individual curriculum: Which is more effective and why?
  • Racial diversity in schools: what are the pros and cons?
  • What kind of educational practices are more effective for preschool children?
  • How does education counseling help in better life decisions?
  • Schooling Vs. Homeschooling: Which is better?
  • What is the role of mothers in kids’ education?
  • Prestigious educational institutes help in shaping students’ character. Discuss.

Engineering Topics for Annotated Bibliography

Engineering, a dynamic and ever-evolving field at the forefront of innovation and technology, is ripe for exploration through annotated bibliographies.

Here are diverse engineering topics for your annotated bibliography:

  • Sustainable Infrastructure Development: Innovations in Green Engineering
  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Robotics and Automation
  • Emerging Trends in Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Engineering Solutions for Urban Mobility and Traffic Management
  • The Role of Biomechanics in Prosthetics and Orthopedic Devices
  • Advancements in Materials Engineering for Aerospace Applications
  • Environmental Engineering: Strategies for Clean Water and Air Quality
  • The Intersection of Engineering and Medicine: Breakthroughs in Biomedical Devices
  • Cybersecurity in Critical Infrastructure: Challenges and Solutions
  • Engineering Ethics and Its Role in Technological Decision-Making

World History Annotated Bibliography Topics

World history explores past events and societies from around the globe. The subject is as vast and deep as the past, where many aspects can be explored and discussed.

Here are a few annotated bibliography topics to help you out:

  • The History of the American Revolution: An examination of the events, individuals, and organizations that shaped the struggle for independence.
  • Native American History: A look at how indigenous peoples have been affected by colonization and modern development in North America.
  • The African Diaspora: Exploring the history and culture of people of African descent who have settled in other parts of the world.
  • The Cold War: An exploration into the ideological and geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 20th century.
  • Women's Suffrage Movement: Examining how women around the world fought for their right to vote and the impact it had on society.
  • The History of Immigration: Understanding how different waves of immigrants have contributed to the culture and economy in their new homeland.
  • Slavery in America: Exploring the history, economics, and effects of this dark period in American history.
  • The Civil Rights Movement: Examining the individuals and organizations that fought for civil rights in America during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • The Industrial Revolution: Investigating how technological advances changed society around the world during this era.

Annotated Bibliography Topics for Criminal Justice

  • Criminal justice, a dynamic field that explores law enforcement, legal systems, and corrections, offers a rich landscape for research. 

Here are some criminal justice annotated bibliography topics:

  • Police Use of Force: A Comprehensive Analysis of Policies and Outcomes
  • The Impact of Body-Worn Cameras on Police Accountability and Community Relations
  • Juvenile Justice Reforms: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Alternative Sentencing Programs
  • Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System: Diversion Programs and Their Outcomes
  • Mass Incarceration and Its Socioeconomic Implications: A Critical Review
  • The Role of Forensic Science in Solving Cold Cases
  • Reforming the Bail System: Implications for Pretrial Detention and Equity
  • Community Policing Strategies and Their Influence on Crime Reduction
  • Intersectionality in the Criminal Justice System: Examining Disparities
  • Recidivism Reduction: Assessing Rehabilitation Programs and Their Impact on Offenders

Annotated Bibliography Topics Business

Business is the practice of creating and exchanging goods and services to meet individual or organizational needs. Creating an annotated bibliography for business research can be a challenging task, but here are some topics to get you started:

  • The History of Entrepreneurship: Tracing the development of entrepreneurship from its early days to modern times.
  • The Rise of E-Commerce: Examining how digital technologies have changed the way business is conducted today.
  • Globalization and Trade: Understanding how global economic forces have created opportunities for international businesses.
  • Innovation in Business: Investigating how business leaders have generated creative solutions to challenges in the marketplace.
  • The History of Business Management: Analyzing the evolution of management theory and practice over time.
  • The Impact of Technology on Business: Exploring how digital tools and platforms are transforming the way businesses operate today.
  • Business Ethics: Examining ethical considerations in various aspects of business operations.
  • Organizational Culture: Investigating how corporate culture shapes the behavior of employees and their attitudes towards work.
  • The History of Accounting: Examining how accounting has developed over time and its role in informing business decisions.
  • Marketing Strategies: Exploring different marketing techniques used to reach customers and build brand loyalty.

Religion Topics for Annotated Bibliography

Religion is a complex and often contentious topic. Here are some religion-related topics you might use for an annotated bibliography:

  • Theology: Investigating the ways in which different religions approach matters of faith, belief, and morality.
  • Sacred Texts: Examining how sacred texts have been used to shape religious and social norms.
  • Religious Cults: Analyzing the rise of religious cults in modern societies and their potential effects.
  • Evangelism: Investigating different strategies used by evangelists to spread their message.
  • Prayer: Examining how prayer has been used to heal, comfort, and console people throughout history.
  • Atheism: Exploring the arguments for and against atheism.
  • Religious Art: Understanding how religious art has been used to express faith through visual imagery.
  • Interfaith Dialogue: Examining the ways in which different religions can engage in meaningful dialogue.
  • Religious Conversion: Investigating the reasons why people choose to convert to a different religion.
  • Religious Education: Analyzing the impact of religious education on children and young adults.

Annotated Bibliography for Ethics and Morals

Studying ethics and morals involves examining and understanding the principles and beliefs that shape our choices and behavior. Here are some topics for ethics and morals:

  • What are the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning?
  • How does morality influence environmental conservation and sustainability efforts?
  • What are the key elements of ethical frameworks in healthcare decision-making?
  • What ethical considerations surround genetic engineering and human enhancement?
  • What are the moral dilemmas involved in end-of-life care?
  • How can ethics balance the principles of free speech and responsibility in journalism?
  • What are the intersections and conflicts between religion and morality?
  • How does business ethics factor into the era of corporate social responsibility?
  • How does moral philosophy impact political ideals and decision-making?
  • What role does ethics play in emerging technologies, from biotechnology to AI ethics?

Annotated Bibliography Topics for Nursing

Nursing is a profession that focuses on caring for individuals, families, and communities to promote health and well-being. Here are some topics related to nursing that you can use when creating an annotated bibliography:

  • The History of Nursing: Tracing the development and evolution of nursing as a profession over time.
  • Nursing Education: Examining how education and training have changed to meet the needs of modern healthcare.
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing: Understanding how to use research to inform clinical decision making and improve patient outcomes.
  • Informatics in Nursing: Exploring how technology is being used to improve nursing practice and healthcare delivery.
  • The Legal and Ethical Implications of Nursing: Examining the implications of laws, regulations, and ethical considerations for nurses.
  • Nursing Leadership: Investigating how nurse leaders can create a supportive environment for staff and promote quality patient care.
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Examining how nurses can use health education and prevention strategies to improve public health.
  • Mental Health Nursing: An exploration of the psychological, social, and spiritual needs of patients in a mental health setting.
  • Cultural Competence in Nursing: Understanding the importance of cultural awareness when caring for patients from different backgrounds.
  • Pain Management in Nursing: Investigating the use of pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies to manage pain.

Annotated Bibliography Topics for Technology

Technology has become essential to the functioning of the modern world. Technology means the application of scientific knowledge to develop tools, machines, and systems to meet human needs.

Check out some topics related to technology you can use for creating an annotated bibliography:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Investigating how AI is being used in different industries, from finance to healthcare.
  • Data Science: Exploring the use of data for predictive analytics, machine learning, and other applications.
  • Cloud Computing: Understanding the impact of cloud computing on businesses, from scalability to security.
  • Internet of Things: Examining how physical objects are connected to the internet and how this affects everyday life.
  • Virtual Reality: Investigating the potential applications and implications of virtual reality technology.
  • Cyber Security: Analyzing strategies for preventing cyber attacks and protecting data.
  • Robotics and Automation: Examining the use of robots and automation in manufacturing, logistics, and other industries.
  • 3D Printing: Exploring the uses of 3D printing in science, engineering, healthcare, and beyond.
  • Blockchain Technology: Investigating how blockchain technology is used to secure digital transactions.
  • Augmented Reality: Examining the potential applications of augmented reality in gaming, entertainment, and more.
  • Quantum Computing: Understanding how this emerging technology is changing computing power and speed. 

Annotated Bibliography Topics For English

English literature is diverse and includes works from many different eras and cultures. Here are some topics related to English literature that you can use when creating an annotated bibliography

Here are some topics related to English literature:

  • Romanticism in Literature: Exploring how writers used themes of love, nature, and emotion to create their works.
  • The Gothic Novel: Analyzing how authors used fear and the supernatural to create an atmosphere of suspense.
  • Realism in Literature: Examining how writers used everyday life and its difficulties as a source of inspiration.
  • Modernist Literature: Understanding how different authors employed innovative techniques to break free from traditional conventions.
  • Postmodern Literature: Examining how writers use playfulness and irony to explore themes of identity, culture, and technology.
  • Poetry: Investigating different forms of poetry, from sonnets to free verse.
  • Drama: Exploring the works of playwrights such as Ibsen, Chekhov, and Miller.
  • Fantasy Literature: Examining how authors use the genre to explore themes of power, identity, and morality.
  • Science Fiction: Investigating how this genre has explored technology, alienation, and other topics.
  • Children’s Literature: Understanding how stories provide children with knowledge and understanding of the world. 

Critical Annotated Bibliography Topics

A critical annotated bibliography combines the usual elements of an annotation with a critical analysis. Here are some topics you can use when creating a critical annotated bibliography

  • Gender Equality in Literature: Examining how female writers have been overlooked and underrepresented throughout history.
  • Race and Representation in Literature: Investigating how different
  • Feminist Theory: Examining how different feminist theories have shaped our understanding of gender and power.
  • Marxism: Investigating Karl Marx’s theories of class struggle and the importance of labor in a capitalist society.
  • Poststructuralism: Understanding how this theory challenges the idea that language is transparent, fixed, and stable.
  • Structuralism: Exploring how this theory attempts to explain the relationship between human behavior and the underlying structures of society.
  • Postcolonial Theory: Analyzing the impact of colonialism on non-Western countries and cultures.
  • Psychoanalytic Theory: Examining Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious mind and its influence on behavior.
  • Philosophy of Language: Understanding the ways in which language is used to express thoughts, emotions, and ideas.
  • Cultural Studies: Investigating the ways in which culture, identity, and power interact to shape society.
  • Environmentalism: Examining how environmental factors affect our lives and how we can work towards sustainability.

Fun Annotated Bibliography Topics

  • Comic Books: Examining how different authors have used superheroes and other characters to explore cultural issues.
  • Video Games: Analyzing the storylines, mechanics, and visuals of popular video games.
  • Anime: Exploring the symbolism, themes, and characters in this popular form of Japanese animation.
  • Mythology: Investigating the ways in which stories from different cultures have been used to explain natural phenomena. 
  • Urban Legends: Analyzing how these stories have been used to explore themes of fear and societal taboos.
  • Horror Films: Understanding how different filmmakers have used visual elements, sound, and suspense to create fear.
  • Musicals: Examining how song and dance can be used to explore themes of love, joy, and tragedy.
  • Fashion: Investigating the changing trends in clothing styles over time and their representation of identity.
  • Art: Understanding the ways in which different forms of art have been used to explore social issues.
  • Food Culture: Exploring how food has been used as a form of expression and communication throughout history.

Persuasive Annotated Bibliography Topics

  • Gun Control: Examining the arguments for and against stricter gun control measures.
  • Climate Change: Analyzing the need for immediate action to address global warming.
  • Free Speech: Debating whether or not governments should limit freedom of speech in certain contexts.
  • Income Inequality: Investigating how income inequality has changed over time and what can be done to reduce the gap.
  • Death Penalty: Examining the arguments for and against capital punishment.
  • Affirmative Action: Analyzing how affirmative action policies have impacted education, employment, and other sectors of society.
  • Animal Rights: Investigating whether or not animals should be granted certain rights.
  • Immigration: Debating whether or not immigration policies should be reformed.
  • Vaccination: Analyzing the evidence for and against mandatory vaccination programs.
  • Technology Addiction: Examining how technology has impacted our lives and what can be done to reduce its negative effects.

Annotated Bibliography Essay Topics for Music

Music is a diverse theme to explore. Here are some music related topic for annotated bibliography that explore different types of music, historical times, and cultural influences:

  • Jazz's Impact on Social Change
  • EDM Evolution: Comprehensive Bibliographic Review
  • Women in Music: Gender Representation 
  • Classical Music Influence on Modern Compositions
  • Hip-Hop: Lyrics and Activism 
  • Music and Technology Intersection
  • Folk Music Across Cultures
  • Music in Film: Comprehensive Soundtracks Analysis
  • Rock and Roll Revolution: Origins, Pioneers, and Impact
  • Globalization of World Music: Cross-Cultural Influences 

What Makes a Good Annotated Bibliography Topic?

When choosing a topic for an annotated bibliography, it's important to consider the scope of the assignment.

A good topic should be narrow enough that you can provide a focused analysis but broad enough that there is ample material available to draw from. It should also be interesting and relevant to your course or field of study. 

Additionally, it should be a topic that you are passionate about so that your research is engaging and enjoyable. 

Finally, it should be manageable in size. If the task feels too daunting or overwhelming, break it down into smaller components to make it more manageable.

Ultimately, the best topics are ones that will spark your curiosity and motivate you to explore the subject in-depth.

How to Choose the Right Topic for an Annotated Bibliography?

Are you wondering how to choose a good topic to write an annotated bibliography on? When choosing a topic for an annotated bibliography, there are several factors to consider.

  • Think about the scope of your assignment and what type of information or evidence you want to include in your research. This will help you narrow down your topic and make it more manageable.
  • Next, evaluate the quality and amount of information available on the topic. You want to make sure that you have access to reliable sources and ample material to draw from.
  • Finally, consider your interests and passions . A topic that resonates with you will be more likely to result in high-quality research and a successful project.

By considering all these factors, you can find the perfect topic for your annotated bibliography.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Writing an annotated bibliography can be a challenging and time-consuming task. However, it is also an incredibly valuable tool for expanding your knowledge on a topic. Follow these steps to get started:

1. Select Your Topic: Choose a specific topic that is interesting and relevant to your course or field of study.

2. Research Sources: Gather materials from reliable sources such as books, journal articles, websites, and more.

3. Read & Summarize: Carefully read each source and summarize the key points it makes in your own words.

4. Evaluate Sources: Assess the credibility of each source by evaluating its accuracy, objectivity, and authority.

5. Cite Sources: Properly cite each source using the appropriate citation style guidelines.

6. Compile Annotations: Combine all your summaries and evaluations into a comprehensive annotated bibliography.

7. Proofread & Revise: Take time to proofread your work and make sure everything is accurate and consistent.

By following these steps, you can create an annotated bibliography that is both accurate and informative. 

Read some annotated bibliography examples to see how it is done in practice.

To conclude,

Working on these topics, you will be able to compose a winning essay for your class and a possibly interesting annotated bibliography. Still, if you find it difficult, MyPerfectWords.com is here to help you.

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English 105 - College Writing: College Research Essays

  • Says Who? : A Team Exercise on the Idea of Authority
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Tutorials This link opens in a new window
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Citation Dos and Don'ts
  • Evaluating sources / The concept of *authority*
  • Popular sources, or, What Google can and can't do for you
  • Writing an annotated bibliography

College Research Essays - An Overview

College research papers : an introduction.

One of the most common assignments in college is the research paper or argumentative essay. In a research paper, the writer makes an argument about a topic (which is generally stated succinctly in a thesis statement .)

Body paragraphs of a research paper are used

  • to give context about the issue being discussed and why it matters
  • to situate it within an existing or related scholarly conversation about the topic at hand
  • to provide supporting arguments for the thesis statement
  • to provide evidence (note: this is very important!) that the thesis and its supporting arguments are true
  • to address existing arguments and counterarguments that others have raised or might raise.

Like any other form of communication, the research paper is also an act of rhetoric, and like other rhetoric it can be ineffective if our logic is unsupported, if we haven't explained how our argument is meaningful, or if our credibility is undermined by sloppiness, nonstandard grammar, or not meeting the requirements of the assignment.

Assignment Prompt : Annotated Bibliography

Assignment : annotated bibliography.

This assignment is a precursor to your Documented Argument paper. In this assignment, you will choose four sources that you’ve found and deemed usable for your Documented Argument paper. One of these must be a scholarly source, and one must be acquired in the library. For each source, you will provide 1) the works cited entry for that source, followed by 2) a 1-paragraph summary of that source and 3) a paragraph that evaluates the source. As you evaluate the source, address these questions: Why is this a useful, credible, and reliable source for your project? What does it help you to do and understand? What about the context (audience, authorship, place of publication, and purpose) is important to consider? This assignment will be a useful scaffolding for your Documented Argument paper. (Length: minimum of 3 pages double spaced)

Assignment Prompt : Documented Argument

Assignment : documented argument.

As you have been thinking about visual and popular culture and media and how it communicates arguments and messages through various avenues, you will generate an argumentative topic relating to these ideas. You will choose a topic, develop a research question, and develop an answer to your question through a thesis statement and constructed argument. You will craft your essay to argue and support your position through outside research (research completed during the Annotated Bibliography assignment). I encourage you to choose a topic that is interesting to you or related to your projected field of study. It might even be an argument that stems from the subject of either of your previous papers (Mediated Values, Ekphrastic Narrative and Analysis). You will be required to submit a revision of this paper after it is graded and this revision should feature substantial changes based on my initial feedback. (Length: minimum of 6 pages double spaced)

Stages of the Writing Process

Stages of the writing process reviewed, prewriting - "what pieces do i need to assemble and how do i get them", pre-writing : the longest stage.

What are we trying to accomplish in the pre-writing stage?

In the prewriting stage, we are trying to unearth both our own preexisting knowledge as well as knowledge we develop through our research. There are various techniques for getting our own knowledge out of our heads and into a form where we can readily go back to it, ranging from pure brainstorming by free-writing thoughts related to the topic, creating a concept or mind map which connects related concepts and allows you to consider what the relations are between the concepts, or using a graphic organizer like a KWHL chart, where you write what you Know (K), Want to Know (W), How You Will Find Out (H), and afterwards, What You Learned (L).)

STEP 1: Our Prior Knowledge - KWHL

Know   Want to Know   How I Find Out   Learned

Get an overall sense of my topic → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited.

STEP 2: Narrowing your topic

Now it's time to narrow your topic. One way to do this is pick one area or question within your topic. Another way to narrow a topic is to introduce qualifiers . Instead of covering all of [my topic], how about [my topic] + [a particular time period] OR [a particular situation] OR [a particular group of people]? Each qualifier narrows the topic even further, and each time you narrow the topic, in all likelihood you also narrow the number of other scholars who have commented on specifically that topic + your chosen qualifiers at the length and depth that you can bring to it. (Fewer preexisting points of view means there is more space for *your point of view.*) This text can be edited.

STEP 3: Examining subtopics

What are subtopics of your narrower topic? → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited.

STEP 4: Coming up with a thesis and supporting arguments

It is vital to have a clear thesis statement that asserts an original idea that you wish to prove. Without a clear, assertive, and original thesis, the remainder of the paper is undermined because readers cannot understand what it is you are marshaling all this additional information/verbiage to prove. Once you come up with a thesis, then you need supporting arguments. You will next gather evidence to back up those arguments. This text can be edited.

STEP 5: Finding evidence for supporting arguments

Finding evidence to support arguments → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited. → This text can be edited.

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Outlining and Annotating Resources

How to Write an Outline

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a summary and evaluation of a resource. Writing an annotated bibliography will help you gain an in-depth understanding of your topics and is useful for organizing and cataloging resources for use when developing an argument. An annotated bibliography begins with an APA formatted reference followed by one or two paragraphs of text that summarizes the study, evaluates the reliability of the information, and evaluates how the information relates to previous and future research. 

This table provides a high-level outline of the structure of a research article and how each section relates to important information for developing an annotated bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography Sample Outline

Author, S. A. (date of publication). Title of the article.  Title of Periodical, vol.  (issue), page-page.  https://doi.org/XXXXXX

Write one or two paragraphs that focus on the study and its findings.

  • Two or more sentences that outline the thesis, hypothesis, and population of the study.
  • Two or more sentences that discuss the methodology.
  • Two or more sentences that discuss the study findings.  
  • One or more sentences evaluating the study and its relationship to other studies.

Outlining (Scholarly Writing) - Group Session

Outlining (Scholarly Writing) Icon Hand drawing a mind map

Tuesday 4:00 p.m. 

Outlining is a way of organizing ideas and is a helpful strategy for academic success. There are multiple ways to outline and doing so before and after composing a paper can help with the paper's arrangement and help ensure alignment with assignment prompts. This group session will include general organization techniques, creating an outline from an assignment prompt, creating an outline from a thesis, outlining for larger projects, and reverse outlining. 

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The Unbibliography When Failure Is Not a Waste of Time

Article sidebar, main article content.

The Unbibliography asks students to keep track of sources they thought they might use in an annotated bibliography assignment but ultimately rejected. Each discarded source is annotated with details about these two moments in the research process. The project also includes introductory comments reflecting on how the Unbibliography impacted the students’ experience of developing the Annotated Bibliography project. By highlighting and valuing a part of the research process that is typically regarded as failure, the Unbibliography allows students to reflect on the processes of evaluating sources and refining their research question. In this way, students are encouraged to grow from novice to experienced researchers.

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    Step 3: Choose three articles from your search, then follow the directions below. Summarize at least three, but no more than four, scholarly sources that address your topic and research question within a psychology specialization in an annotated bibliography that includes: The APA citation for each article.

  21. Outlining and Annotating

    Writing an annotated bibliography will help you gain an in-depth understanding of your topics and is useful for organizing and cataloging resources for use when developing an argument. ... and doing so before and after composing a paper can help with the paper's arrangement and help ensure alignment with assignment prompts. This group session ...

  22. The Unbibliography: When Failure Is Not a Waste of Time

    The Unbibliography asks students to keep track of sources they thought they might use in an annotated bibliography assignment but ultimately rejected. Each discarded source is annotated with details about these two moments in the research process. The project also includes introductory comments reflecting on how the Unbibliography impacted the students' experience of developing the Annotated ...