Annotated Bibliography

He is wise who knows the sources of knowledge  ̶  where it is written and where it is to be found.
                                                                                            A.A. Hodge

How to Write An Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography is usually thought of as an alphabetical listing of books at the end of a written work (book,
book chapter, or article) to which the author referred during the research and writing process.  In addition to books, bibliographies can include sources such as articles, reports, interviews, or even non-print resources like Web sites, video or audio recordings. 

Because they may include such varied resources, bibliographies are also referred to as 'references', 'works cited' or 'works consulted' (the latter can include those titles that merely contributed to research, but were not specifically cited in the text).  The standard bibliography details the citation information of the consulted sources:  author(s), date of publication, title, and the publisher's name and location (and for articles:  journal title, volume, issue and page numbers).  The primary function of bibliographic citations is to assist the reader in finding the sources used in the writing of a work. 

An annotated bibliography should cover the following for each source that you use in writing a research paper:

1) Information Search (Introductory Paragraph)
2) Citation in MLA or APA format giving full citation data
3) Authority of the source
4) Summary of the source
5) Currency of the source
6) Relevance of the source

The document Evaluation Sources found in Unit 2: The Web, is useful here in compiling the information for your annotated bibliography.

Information Search

At the beginning of the annotation for each source you should describe your information search. What finding aid (i.e. Library online SNAP catalog, online database, search engine, etc.) did you use to find the information?  What strategy did you use to locate the information?  Did you use a keyword search?  A subject heading search?  If using the Internet for a web source, what search engine did you use?  How did you structure your search query?  Did you use Boolean searching?  Did you use a site limiter command (.gov or .edu?)?  What obstacles, if any, did you encounter?  Remember to refer to Unit 2: The Web, for a review of how to search effectively.  Refer to Unit 5: Circulating Books to review how to search by Library of Congress Subject Heading.

Citation in MLA or APA format giving full citation data

Next, put the source into correct MLA or APA format giving full citation data.  Be sure to double-space the citation and indent the second and subsequent lines 5 spaces.  For more details, be sure to review Unit 7: Writing and Citing, especially "Using MLA or APA Format to Correctly Cite Your Sources."

Authority of the source

Discuss the authority of the source.  What are the intellectual/academic qualifications of the author?  If there is no author, what organization created the source? 

Summary of the source

Give a summary of the source:  explain the main purpose and scope.  Give a brief description of the work's format and content.  What is the value and significance of the work as a contribution to the subject?  Who is the work's intended audience?  Are there possible shortcomings or biases in the work?  Provide any significant special features of the work (for example, glossary, appendices).  Include your own brief impression of the work. 

Currency of the source

Discuss the currency of the work:  Is the work current?  Does currency matter, given your topic?  If you are writing a paper on a historical subject, currency of the source may not be as important as if you are writing about a scientific topic (i.e. genetics).

Relevance of the source

Describe whether this source was relevant.  Did it meet your information need and answer your research question?

Example of an annotated bibliography

This annotated bibliography gives you an idea of how to cover items 1-6 above for a particular source.  Use it as a model upon which to  base your annotations.  Annotations should then be put into alphabetical order by author's last name, or if no author is listed, by the title of the source.

Be sure to write in complete sentences, and spell-check your work!



Scientific Information Literacy Modules
Unit 1:  What is Science?
Unit 2:  Scientific Information
Unit 3:  Information Formats
Unit 4:  Defining Search Terms 
Unit 5: Conducting a Literature Review
Unit 6: Science Information Sources

History Information Literacy Modules
copyright 2011 Napa Valley College

updated June 14, 2011, by Nancy McEnery, Reference Librarian-Instructor