An annotated bibliography is a list of sources that have been summarised and evaluated. It involves research, reading and writing. Annotated bibliographies vary in the number and length of sources required. Always check your assignment instructions carefully.
Researching an annotated bibliography
Conduct your research for sources that relate to your topic. Contact a Librarian for help locating sources.
Read and make notes on each source:
What is the context in which it was written?
Who is the author?
What is it about?
What claims does it make?
If it reports on a research study, what methods were used and results were obtained?
Ask questions about the source’s argument, evidence, conclusions and relevance:
Has the author made any assumptions about the subject?
Is there enough evidence to support the argument and the conclusions?
Are there any limitations to the study or argument?
How significant is the article to your studies?
Writing an annotated bibliography
Annotated bibliographies include multiple entries and should be organised alphabetically.
Each entry will focus on one source and should contain two parts – a citation and an annotation.
An annotation is a written summary and evaluation of the source. You may also be required to include a reflection.
Describe the contents of the source, including:
context or background
description of the main idea and purpose
summary of the key findings or argument.
Discuss how well the source presents its ideas, including:
strengths and limitations
significance to the topic
relevance to your studies.
If required, write a short reflection on the relevance or usefulness of the source to your further assessment needs.
Tips for writing about sources
When writing your annotations, you can use reporting verbs to refer to either the author (“the author claims”) or the text (“the article outlines”). In this case you should use present tense ("argues" not "argued").
For articles that report on research studies, you can use the past tense to refer to the study (“this study examined...”).
Example annotation: [All bolded text in brackets identify parts of the annotation and should not be included in your own writing]
[Citation] Baker, J., & Whelan, R. J. (1994) Ground Parrots and fire at Barren Grounds, New South Wales: a long-term study and an assessment of management implications. Emu, 94(4), pp 300-304.
[Context] This study was based on a series of censuses of Ground Parrots in the same locality from immediately after fire to 10.7 years post-fire. [Description of research] Beaters were used at a distance of 10 metres apart to flush birds from the heath vegetation and create count per hectare. Previous studies have recommended that controlled burning occur every 8- 10 years, based on the fact that some surveys have indicated lack of Ground Parrots after a fire age (number of years without fire) of 11- 15 years. [Results] Results of this study indicate that abundance appears to plateau at approximately 0.25 birds/ha after around 5 years. However, some areas where Ground Parrots occur have experienced multiple fires which may further affect population.
[Evaluation] This work is useful for the literature review for my field trip report as a volunteer with Ornithology Australia. [Significance to topic] It provides some insight into the census-taking methodology, which I will be working on and the issues associated with dense vegetation. [Relevance to your study] I will also be focussing on further impacts of climate change in this region since this study was done.
Sample adapted and used with student permission.
For more examples of annotated bibliographies, see the Word and PDF files below.