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Holy Spirit Library: Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

Collect & Select, Cite & Write 

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Jen Hasse

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Ellie Knickman
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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is basically a Works Cited page or References page that has the addition of a short summary paragraph under each citation called an annotation. An annotation is a summary, which captures the main information or message contained in an article, chapter, or book. The purpose of the annotation is to discuss the content and relevance of the source.   An annotation is also evaluative, it comments on the quality and effectiveness of the source. 

Students are generally asked to write an annotated bibliography as a preliminary step to writing a research paper. 

Collect & Select

The first step to a successful annotated bibliography is collecting your sources. You will want to check your assignment to be clear on the number of sources and the type of sources you are asked to include in the annotated bibliography. Spend time searching for these sources in the appropriate places: library catalog (books), databases (journal articles), credo reference (reference sources), and online (websites. video, social media, etc.). Aim to acquire a list of sources longer than the number of sources you will ultimately need.

After you have collected your sources, it's time to start selecting the ones you will use in your annotated bibliography. Look at each source individually, examining the content as well as the quality of the source. Then look at your sources as a whole. Consider whether they are too similar or too disparate from each other --  each source should offer something different but still work well together. Make a final decision about which sources you will use in your annotated bibliography based on all these factors. 

FINAL GOAL: the needed number of strong, relevant, and cohesive sources 

Cite & Write

After you have chosen the sources you will use in your annotated bibliography, it is time to cite your sources. This is a step that is tempting to skip or gloss over -- writing citations isn't the most fun thing to do - but it is a very important and necessary part of the process. First, be clear on which style you are being asked to use - usually either APA style, MLA style, or sometimes Chicago Style. Then craft your citations. If you are using a citation generator or a citation provided by a site or database, double check that the citation is correctly formatted and has all the necessary elements for that source type. Finally, alphabetize your citations according to the first letter of the entry. Note that your entire annotated bibliography should be double-spaced. Do not number or use bullet points. 

AVOID using a web link in place of a citation

The final step of the process is to write an annotation for each of your sources. The annotation should be a substantial paragraph under each citation. To guide you in writing your annotation think about: 

Who are the authors of the source, and what are their credentials?

What (or who) is the focus of the source? What does the source argue or conclude? 

How did the writer(s) arrive at their perspective or point of view. How did they collect their research or data? 

When/Where was this source written or created, is it up to date? In what context was it produced? 

Why did the author(s) create this source? Why are you using this source? 

AVOID copying directly from an abstract or review. This is Plagiarism. 

FINAL GOAL: A perfectly formatted annotated bibliography that represents your research efforts and accurately and originally conveys the content and quality of each source.