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What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

Students, who study either in colleges or in universities, have to deal with writing assignments. And for completing this task, they have to deal with annotated bibliographies. Of course, it seems to be like the advanced version of the usual bibliography. But tutors will say that annotated bibliography will take more time and efforts because students need not just to make a list of sources. They also need to create short summaries for every source. In order to complete the work successfully, you need to determine your exact topic.

The tutors of American colleges often give a wide range of topics. And the task of the students is to narrow their own annotated bibliography topics. In this way, they will be able to choose the most relevant and suitable sources. In this article, you will know how to make this, and how to impress the professor with the high-level paper.

How to Start

The first step which must be made by the student is to understand what is different between simple and annotated bibliography. For example, you may know that the list of sources is often known as Works Cited or References. And this part of the writing paper has its special style and rules of formatting. But annotated bibliography is used in more broad aims. It is not just a list of sources, but also a short description of each of them.

In spite of the fact that the annotated bibliography is presented at the end of the paper, it must be completed before paper drafting. Students need to be ready with their vision of the structure of the paper. So there are some steps which should be followed:

  • Clarification of the topic – a need to complete the annotated bibliography will help to clarify the topic, so the student can make the topic more narrow and start to work on a certain question
  • Development of the thesis statement – student knows his/her topic and makes the thesis statements as persuasive as possible
  • Collection of the evidence – looking through the sources, the students can collect the evidence which will make the arguments stronger
  • A critical review of the existing material – in this part of work the student can write his/her own critical minds according to the existing materials.

Tutors admire to ask students to make this work because they will gain only advantages. Annotated bibliography topics allow students to collect the newest and the most relevant sources with their descriptions. This will make it easier to review these sources in the future.

Annotated bibliography and essay: how to distinguish?

Students need to understand the difference between the essays and annotated bibliographies. For example, wiring the essay, you also have to follow the structure of paper writing. But writing an annotated bibliography, you may not need an introduction or conclusion. But it depends on your tutor. He/she can ask you to follow the accepted structure, so both aspects must be mentioned.

What to remember?

It doesn’t matter what topic you work on, but you have to follow some rules and remember about the structure. The two most used formats are MLA and APA. But speaking about the annotated bibliography, we have to mention that it has its own formatting parameters. Before start working, we recommend discussing everything with a tutor.

As a rule, annotate bibliographies contain two main parts. They are a reference and an annotation. In the first part, the student needs to mention all the common information about the sources. You have to mention:

  • Name of the author
  • Year and place of publication
  • Name of the publication agency
  • The title of the source

Sometimes the number of pages is also mentioned there. The peculiarities of the annotation writing will be discussed later.

Take into account that the choice of the ideal formation depends on the subject. For example, MLA is a proper option for the papers which are written for arts or humanistic sciences. APA formatting requirements are followed when a student works in the sphere of sociology or psychology. Both these styles are the most common. CSE format is used in chemistry and physics papers, and IEEE is used in IT writing assignments.

There is also a well-known Harvard style. It means that you need to include references, to write short summaries, to explain the relevance of the source to your paper, and to criticize the source. In this case, a student needs to write approximately 100 words, but the tutor can ask the different number of words.

Variety of annotated bibliography styles

Specialists outline the main three groups of annotated bibliographies. They can be summarizing, mixed and evaluating.

As for the first type of bibliographies, they can generally describe the source; mention overall information about the content of the book/article, provide readers with additional information about the reference. For example, your readers can know the most important features of the source.

Speaking about evaluating bibliographies, we can say that they determine the quality of the used references. One more point is that students need to read the sources critically and give their own estimates.

As for the mixed style of the annotated bibliographies, they require students to be ready with the short summaries. Writing mixed annotated bibliography, you need to include the brief information in the first paragraph, and the assessments in the second one. If you want to write the third paragraph, you can write about your own usage of this source in your paper.

Annotations which are written by the college students are usually short. 100-200 words are enough. But it doesn’t matter that you are not allowed to write more. Annotation, which length is more than 200 words, is also possible. Moreover, it is necessary when the student’s task is to give estimations of the sources.

What to write in the annotated bibliographies?

There is a common rule which is followed by college and university students. As a rule, they write in their annotations about the content and its ideas. They also explain how they used this source while writing the paper. Personal estimations and the relevance of the source should be mentioned. But the exact content of the annotation should be discussed with the professor.

Good topic: how to choose

Before choosing annotated bibliography topics, don’t forget to determine the length of the paper. The more pages, the more complex the topic has to be. If you desire to write a short paper, it is better to limit the topic and make a strong argument. For example, the topic of human trafficking will not be completed in 5 pages. There are too many pieces of information about the topic, so it’s better to make the topic more narrow and write about it.

Looking at the example of this topic, a student can write about human trafficking in a certain country or in some population groups. It is also possible to write about the measures which are implemented by the government. The other topic is the comparison of statistics of different years.

Of course, choosing one such topic will make possible to have a good start. The narrow topic will also help the student to make the strongest and the most persuasive thesis statement.

As for the conclusion, we want you to have a narrow topic because it will help to choose only relevant and useful sources. In this way, it will help to create a list of the references which were really used while writing. Moreover, working on this specific topic, you will know a lot about every source, and the annotated bibliography will be easy to do.

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