Creating an Annotated Bibliography
What is an annotated bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.
Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles. The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.
Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:
- Main focus or purpose of the work
- Usefulness or relevance to your research topic
- Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
- Background and credibility of the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by you
Annotations versus abstracts
Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article, to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.
Annotated Bibliography Samples - MLA 8th edition
Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement. New York UP, 2014. This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.
Journal article example
Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004. Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns. This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.
Annotated Bibliography Samples - APA 6th edition
Ontiveros, R. J. (2014). In the spirit of a new people: The cultural politics of the Chicano movement. New York: New York University Press.
Ontiveros argues that the arts provide an expression of the Chicano movement that circumvents neoliberalism and connects historic struggles to current lived experience. Chicano artists have integrated environmentalism and feminism with the Chicano movement in print media, visual arts, theater, and novels since the 1970s. While focused on art, this book also provides a history of the coalition politics connecting the Chicano movement to other social justice struggles.
Journal article example
Alvarez, N. & Mearns, J. (2014). The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(3), 263-268. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004
Prior research has shown narrative writing to help with making meaning out of trauma. This article uses grounded theory to analyze semi-structured interviews with ten spoken word poets. Because spoken word poetry is performed live, it creates personal and community connections that enhance the emotional development and resolution offered by the practice of writing. The findings are limited by the small, nonrandom sample (all the participants were from the same community).