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Research Methods: Annotated Bibliographies


An annotated bibliography includes the citation for sources used to research a topic as well as a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. The citation style depends upon your discipline. Annotated bibliographies help you learn about your topic AND helps others learn about the topic.

Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. When you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully.

Steps & Elements


  • Find relevant articles or other sources about your topic and read the articles.

Parts of an Annotation

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic? 

Not all annotated bibliographies will include all of these elements! Look at your assignment, ask your instructor, or inquire about procedures in your discipline to determine what is often used.


  • Annotations are written in paragraph form and are often two to eight sentences, but can be a couple of pages (depends on your purpose).