Skip to main content

Assessment Support

Template for all student academic writing lib guides

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An Annotated Bibliography is an alphabetical list of information sources (e.g. journal articles or book chapters), which includes concise descriptions, analysis and evaluations of each source, formatted like a bibliography or reference list.

Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography

Creating an Annotated Bibliography will allow you to:

  • Learn about a particular topic through critically reviewing the literature
  • Reflect and review the research that has already been undertaken about your topic of choice 
  • Discover the amount of relevant, quality and reliable material there is available
  • Explore and organise sources for further research.
  • Improve your research and critical thinking skills

Questions to Consider when choosing a source

Choosing which sources to include in your Annotated Bibliography is important and when choosing you should consider the following questions:

  • What is my research topic?
  • Does this source relate to my research topic?
  • What kind of material am I looking at and why? Am I looking for journal articles, reports, policies or primary historical data?
  • Am I being thoughtful in my selection sources?
  • What are the essential or key text on my topic? Am I finding them?
  • Are there sources that are valuable or often referred to in my research? Have I included them?

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography is made up of two (2) parts:

  1. The bibliographical details of a source, also known as a citation
  2. The explanatory paragraph or annotation.

Creating a Citation

The citation should be constructed the same as a reference list in APA 6th edition format.

For more in-depth instructions on creating a citation refer to the Referencing and Plagiarism assessment support guide.

Creating an Annotation

There are three (3) components that go into creating an Annotation:

  1. Description
  2. Analysis
  3. Evaluation

Description

This is a short description of the source. Some questions to think about include:

  • Who authored or produced the source?
  • When and where was it produced / published?
  • Subject & scope of text? (What does it address, and what does it not address?)
  • Main argument and objectives? (This may not be relevant for a practitioner account)
  • Key issues / themes / concepts discussed?
  • Conclusions drawn? (This may not be relevant for a practitioner account)

Analysis

This is a short analysis of the source. Some concepts to consider include:

  • What is the context in which this source was produced? (Political, socio-cultural, industrial, economic, technological, intellectual, etc.) How does the source speak to or reflect this context?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How does it connect with other scholarship / discussions on this topic?
  • What is your view or reaction to the text and the arguments / ideas put forward? (Do you agree or disagree? Why?)
  • What did you find out about the topic from this source? In what ways does it extend your understanding of the subject?
  • Has the text advanced your thinking about your major work or your practice?
  • Did the text raise any issues or questions you would like to research further?

Evaluation

This is a brief evaluation of the source and some questions to consider:

  • Reliability of the source?
  • Strengths and limitations of the source?
  • Relevance or usefulness of the source for your research and major work?

Putting it All Together

Once you have answered all of the questions and concepts above, you should condense them into a single paragraph of between 150-200 words. When writing your annotation you should:

  • Use complete sentences.
  • Be concise.
  • Try to use transition words (e.g. furthermore, moreover, however, therefore …)

Checklist for an Annotated Bibliography

Have I:

⇒ Used APA 6th Edition referencing format?

⇒ Are the sources are listed alphabetically?

⇒ Each entry is composed of the full reference of the source followed by the annotation

⇒ Given a brief overview of the main ideas of the source, using features such as the structure, the purpose or the research methodology of the text as discussion points?

⇒ Evaluated the source for its objectivity and reliability?

⇒ Commented on whether the source was useful to my research?

⇒ Ensured my spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct and my writing is set out in a logical format

⇒ Proof read all your work?