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POLI SCI 1: Annotated Bibliography

What is an "annotated bibliography?"

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to articles, books, documents, and other materials you have found during your research. Each citation is followed by an annotation, a descriptive and evaluative paragraph of that source. Your annotation informs your reader in your own words of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources you have found and cited in your paper or project, and your reasoning for selecting these sources.

Annotations vs. Abstracts?

When researching a subject, you will come across short descriptions of books and articles in academic databases.  These are abstracts, which are descriptive summaries of an article or book or other researched piece. Abstracts are usually written by the author as a quick summary of the piece.  Abstracts can help a researcher make a quick decision in deciding to invest the time in reading the full piece.  Annotations are descriptive and critically written by a researcher who read and decided to use the article, book, etc in their research project.  In addition to a brief summary, annotations may describe the author's point of view, authority,  clarity, critiques of the piece, or how the piece fits within the researcher's work.

How to Create an Annotated Bibliography

Creating an annotated bibliography will help you put together an academic paper.  The citations you are finding are like puzzle pieces, and you will use your intellect, creativity, and imagination to put the pieces together to provide your unique viewpoint on the subject.  Thinking about and summarizing your research will help clarify your paper/project's logical argument. Below are the steps to creating a annotated bibliography.

  1.  Locate and record citations to books, articles, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas related to your topic. Using the abstracts, choose works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic, including works that support and refute your ideas and/or argument.  Thoroughly read the pieces after you have chosen them.
  2. Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
  3. Write a concise paragraph (the annotation) that summarizes the central theme and scope of the work. Include in your paragraph several of the following:
    • Evaluate the authority or background of the author--is the author a professor, a government official, etc. What gives the author authority over the subject?  Is this person a respected expert on the subject?
    • Comment on the intended audience of the work--is it intended for other academics, the public, etc?
    • Compare or contrast this work with another you have found
    • Briefly explain how this work fits in with your topic.  Does it fill a gap in your understanding, raise new questions, or something else entirely?
    • If one or more of your citations appear to be in conversation with another,  briefly state that and why?
    • What questions does this piece raise?  Does it point to a gap in the knowledge on the topic?  Briefly explain.
    • There are different kinds of annotated bibliographies, so be sure that yours conforms to the parameters in the assignment you're given