Every student knows how to prepare a bibliography, sometimes knows as a works cited page. You have a format to follow (MLA, APA, Turabian, etc.), and you list all of the resources you used in a research work you have written. The information gives the author, the title of the work, the date and place of publication, and so forth. At some point, most students will be required to write annotated bibliographies, which are totally different and present unique challenges. This piece should help you eliminate some of the risk factors of preparing annotations, so that your grade will not be lowered as a result of a poorly constructed one.
Getting to a precise understanding of what is an annotated bibliography, there are a couple of other terms that must be defined, as follows:
Now, we can actually define an annotated bibliography: It is a complete listing of all sources used in the production of a research work, and, following each listing, there is a one-paragraph annotation, usually of about 100-200 words. Depending on the type of work that has been produced, an annotated bibliography may have one or more of the following purposes:
Two Types of Annotated Bibliographies
Professors are usually pretty definitive in specifying which of two types of annotated bibliographies they want students to produce:
How to Write an Annotated Bibliography – The steps
1. As you conduct research for your paper or project, have a separate document for each source that you can make notes that will be included in your annotation. When you finish studying a resource and taking your notes, write a short summary of that source, note the important information that it contributed to your topic, and, if you are to provide a critical analysis and judgement, make some notes about that. This will help you so much in the end, as you will not have to go back and try to remember.
2. Once your paper or project is completed, you are ready to create that annotated bibliography. Before you begin, make sure you have the correct citation style. An MLA annotated bibliography, for example, will begin with the normal complete citation format each resource. The only exception may be if a professor wants the bibliography to be chronological (based upon publication dates) as opposed to alphabetical.
3. Once you have entered the full citation, double space and begin your annotation. Here is the general order in which the information should be presented:
4. Be certain that your annotation is written in scholarly paragraph style, with a topic sentence that usually relates to the purpose of the source’s author. For example, “John Doe has summarized 4 major research studies on the effects of art therapy as a treatment for clinically depressed adolescents in an attempt to evaluate the efficacy of such therapy.”
Another hint for you to remember is develop a word list that will cue you on the all of the parts to be included – summary, personal reflection, etc. You don’t want to leave any critical piece out.
Some Final Thoughts
One of the best way to help yourself learn how to write annotated bibliographies is to study those that have been written by others. You can even Google “samples of annotated bibliographies” and find thousands of them. Look for those in your required format style.
You have to pack a lot of information into 200 words. Write your annotation first without concern for the number of words. Once you have it complete, get your word count and, if it is too long, go back and start eliminating adverbs and adjectives. Look for any redundancies in what you have written. But never go over your word limit.
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