What Is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of reference sources and critical summaries/evaluations of the sources. Typically, researchers will
- Provide the citation information for each source following the rules of a particular bibliography style (e.g., MLA Style, APA Style, Chicago Style).
Logically, you want to use the citation style in your bibliography that you will use in your research report. Examples of citation sources include books, articles, Internet sites, newspapers, and audiovisual materials.
- List each reference source in alphabetical order.
Occasionally researchers will introduce themes to their annotated bibliographies, essentially introducing headings for each theme and then organizing citations and summaries according to the themes that are emerging.
- Provide a brief (100- to 200-word) descriptive and evaluative summary of each source.
Researchers may address the relevance of the reference source, summarize the unique findings or arguments of the source, include judgments regarding the quality of the source, and critique the methods employed by the source to generate knowledge.
Annotated Bibliography Example
Tips for Constructing Annotated Bibliographies
The bibliographic entry will be identical to the entries on a works cited page. For more information, visit our MLA Works Cited page.
Writing the Annotation
When drafting the summary/annotation, consider the following questions
- Audience, purpose, voice, tone, persona, media. Conduct a rhetorical analysis, evaluating the source’s intended audience, purpose, scope, and so on.
- Relevance? Importance? Is the source timely, controversial, and/or focused on matters related to your research project? Are the results significant? Is the argument persuasive?
- Authority of the researchers. What universities or corporations support the research? Is the researcher or research team frequently cited by others? Is the source published by a credible publishing company? Is it peer-reviewed?
- Significant findings and arguments.
- Research methods: Are the researchers employing appropriate research methodologies? Are the methodologies fairly standard, i.e., have the researcher’s methods been used by past researchers?
- Quality of the research or article. Is it thorough?
Formatting an Annotated Bibliography
The formatting of an annotated bibliography will be similar to a works cited page. The bibliographic entries will be identical, but annotations will be added. Start the annotation on a new line, and indent again. The entire annotation should be indented. See the example annotated bibliography below.
If your annotated bibliography is a stand-alone assignment, you should include a 4-part heading, header, and title, just as you would for an other MLA-formatted writing assignment. See the example annotated bibliography below.
Who Reads Annotated Bibliographies?
There tend to be three major audiences for annotated bibliographies: the authors of the annotations, instructors, and other researchers.
Self as Audience
Many people find it useful to craft an annotated bibliography while researching topics. Writing brief summaries of the research you consult, whether it’s newspapers, journals, book, or videos, helps you remember these sources over time. More than that, by writing critical evaluations of the research you consult, you will identify common themes and methods. You will find what research is commonly cited on a topic, what methods are employed, and what a community of scholars believes needs additional inquiry.
Instructors as Audience
In college and university contexts, instructors require students to craft annotated bibliographies as a preliminary step to writing a formal research paper. Asking students to construct an annotated bibliography enables instructors to ensure that students understand the bibliography style for citing references. It helps ensure the student has consulted a variety of timely and reputable sources.
Occasionally professionals will actually publish their annotated bibliographies. This happens in research fields where a lot of information is being published. Professional researchers often begin their survey of research by finding annotated bibliographies on a topic that interests them.
Rubric for Assessing Annotated Bibliographies
|Does not meet assignment requirements.Topic is inappropriate for assignment.No attempt to focus on a specific topic.Background information provided in the introduction does not relate to research question.Research question absent from introduction.||Partially or incompletely meets assignment requirements.|
Focus of topic unclear and/or needs development.
Background information is appropriate for topic, but relationship between background information and research question is not clearly and explicitly established.
Ideas in introduction are not fully developed and/or logically linked.Research question is too broad/narrow, needs development, and/or lacks focus.
|Consistently meets assignment requirements.Topic is appropriate for the assignment, focused, and clearly articulated.|
Background information presented in the introduction clearly and explicitly relates to research question.Ideas in introduction are fully developed and logically linked.
Research question is insightful, well thought out, and clearly articulated.
|Evidence 30%||Sources are not appropriate/credible for scholarly research.|
Sources do not reflect the appropriate time periods.
Sources do not address the research question.
Summaries of sources are significantly underdeveloped or are absent.
Rhetorical analyses are significantly underdeveloped or are absent.
Credibility analyses are significantly underdeveloped or are absent.
Does not distinguish between writer’s ideas and source’s ideas.
Does not include sources.
|Sources are inconsistently appropriate/credible for scholarly research.Sources inconsistently fall into the appropriate time periods.|
Sources inconsistently address the research question.Summaries of sources inconsistently represent the full scope of source arguments.
Rhetorical analyses inconsistently establish link between source and research question.
Credibility analyses inconsistently establish source/authors as authorities on the topic.
Annotations inconsistently distinguish between writer’s ideas and source’s ideas.
Does not meet minimum number of sources.
|Sources are appropriate/credible for scholarly research.|
Sources fall into the appropriate time periods.
Sources consistently and explicitly address the research question.
Summaries of sources consistently and thoroughly represent the full scope of source arguments, including source goals, evidence, and conclusions.
Rhetorical analyses consistently and explicitly establish clear relationship between source and research question.
Credibility analyses consistently and thoroughly establish source/authors as authorities on the topic.
Annotations explicitly and consistently distinguishes between writer’s ideas and source’s ideas.
Meets minimum number of sources.
|Format/Organization20%||Little compliance with accepted documentation style (i.e., MLA, APA) for paper formatting and annotated bibliographies.Works Cited citations reflect little effort to conform to MLA format conventions.Necessary in-text citations are absent.Minimal attention to document design (for example: line and paragraph spacing, font style and size).||Inconsistent compliance with accepted documentation style (i.e., MLA, APA) for paper formatting, in-text citations, annotated bibliographies and works cited.|
Works Cited citations reflect inconsistent effort to conform to MLA format conventions.Necessary in-text citations are inconsistently present and/or inconsistently conform to MLA format conventions.Inconsistent attention to document design (for example: line and paragraph spacing, font style and size).
|Consistent compliance with accepted documentation style (i.e., MLA, APA) for paper formatting, in-text citations, annotated bibliographies and works cited.|
Works Cited citations consistently and accurately conform to MLA format conventions.
Necessary in-text citations are consistently present and consistently conform to MLA format conventions.Consistent attention to document design (for example: line and paragraph spacing, font style and size).
|Style 20%||Frequent grammar and/or punctuation errors.Frequent shifts in point of view.Frequent proofreading errors.Significant problems with syntax, diction, word choice, and vocabulary. Language significantly interferes with the communication of ideas.||Some grammar and/or punctuation errors occur in places.Inconsistent point of view. Some proofreading errors.Some problems with syntax, diction, word choice, and vocabulary. Language does not interfere with communication of ideas.||Correct grammar and punctuation.Consistent point of view. No proofreading errors.Consistently polished and appropriate syntax, diction, word choice, and vocabulary. |
Language consistently complements and facilitates communication of ideas.