Annotated Bibliographies

As a student, you are usually required to include a bibliography with every essay you write. But what is an Annotated Bibliography? How do I write one?

A bibliography is “a list of the books and articles that have been used by someone when writing a particular book or article” (Cambridge Dictionary). An annotated bibliography is a little different. It requires a list of cited sources, but also requires a short (about 150 words) explanation or opinion of the text you have included in the list.

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What Do I Include?

This will be determined by your instructor, but the following aspects will be included:

  • A citation – at JIBC, the standard citation method is APA, or American Psychological Association style
  • An annotation:
    • A short description of the content of the source
    • A reason why the source is relevant to the topic
    • Any strengths or weaknesses of the source
    • An evaluation of the reliability of the source
    • A description of your opinion of the source

There are different types of annotations to be aware of:

  • informative/descriptive annotation – description of the source without evaluating or judging the content
  • analytical/critical annotation – evaluation of the source’s content. To learn more about the evaluation process, check Critically Analyzing Information Sources (Cornell University).

One of the main reasons for doing an annotated bibliography is to show why a particular book or article is relevant to the topic you’re researching. Choosing articles or books to include is more than picking the first few that come up in a library or web search; evaluating the content before including it in your annotated bibliography is a huge part of the process.

Steps In Writing An Annotated Bibliography

  1. Choose sources that have a different perspectives on your topic
  2. Read the book(s) and/or article(s) related to your topic
  3. Summarize or evaluate the source, according to assignment requirements
  4. Cite your sources in APA format

General Guidelines

  • Write as an objective third person
  • Be specific and succinct; don’t write long sentences or unnecessary words.
  • Use direct language; avoid vague statements like “the book is good” or “the article is helpful” – explain why it is good or helpful.
  • Unless the author is well known, list his/ her qualifications and point of view.

An Example Of APA-Style Annotated Bibliography Entry

O’Connor, B. N., & Cordova, R. (2010). Learning: The experiences of adults who work full-time while attending graduate school part-time.

Journal of Education for Business, 85(6), 359-368. DOI: 10.1080/08832320903449618

In this study, the researchers examined how employed adults dealt with the addition of part-time graduate studies to work schedules and life demands. This study is distinct because very little research has been done about part-time graduate students. Using a modified phenomenological research approach, the researchers gathered qualitative data through both face-to-face interviews and phone interviews. The major finding was that, despite pursuing degrees relevant to their professional lives, all students found their workplaces resistant to proposals learned in school. However, the researchers surveyed only 6 individuals; therefore, these results may not be statistically significant. However, this study is relevant because it provides future researchers with a methodology for determining the impact of adding part-time graduate studies to the schedule of fully-employed adults.


Last updated September 19, 2014