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Annotated bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies are lists that give a summary of all entries of the works that have been cited in an academic paper. It is a list of books, articles, and other documents that are found in your essay, dissertation, and research paper or term paper. This list is written in alphabetical order and you can check in the examples of annotated bibliographies you get. It gives a precise summary of each source and some assessment of its relevance or value. Depending on the project, the annotated bibliography can be part of a larger project or an independent project.
Annotated bibliographies are crucial tools of research because they allow you to organise your sources in ways that may otherwise be difficult. They enable the reader of your work to easily find the source that contains the information you need ad the citations that are a reader for your final paper. This is what makes annotated bibliographies important and useful.

Components of annotated bibliographies

Bibliographic entry refers to an entire entry from a single source. It is composed of documentation and annotation.  They should have two parts:

  • Documentation
    This is the source itself and should be documented using MLA, APA, CBE, Chicago or any other style.
  • Annotation
    This is a paragraph of notes about the source. Valuable annotations establish credibility, summarise, and demonstrate relevance. You should consult your professor to find out if you are going to include any additional information or if he has specific limitations to the assignments. Your annotated bibliography should do the following:
  • Establish credibility
    Make your reader know that your sources are credible. You can identify and include reputable institutions affiliated with the author. You can also identify the reputation of the journal or the method used to publish. Look at peer-reviewed sources that are journal selections that have been approved by professionals in the discipline, and the examples of annotated bibliographies you can get.
  • Summarize the work
    You have to identify and state the purpose of your work. It is okay to use paraphrasing, but it is important to note the page number. You can use headings, chapters, titles and so on to reference what you are discussing about the organisation and to allow you to quickly find the information within the source.
  • Show diversity and similarity
    This is done by showing how the sources relate. Demonstrate how their details or contents compare to another source in the bibliography. You can use compare and contrast, cause and effect, problem and solution, classification and description or narration.
  • Establish relevancy
    It should show how the source relates to your research.

Major components of annotated bibliographies

The enumerated list contains the major components of annotated bibliographies. These fields must be used once an annotated bibliography, but they vary depending on the type of the annotated bibliography and the instructions therein in case the bibliography is a class assignment.

  • Full bibliographic citation
    All annotated bibliographies must have the necessary and complete bibliographical information.
  • Author’s background
    You have to provide the name, authority, experience and the qualifications of the author.
  • Purpose of the work
    Give reasons that compelled the author to write the book
  • The scope of the work
    State the extent to which the work covers the topic and the subtopics
  • Main argument
    State the major informative points of the paper
  • Methodology
    Identify the methods and research methods that the author employed.
  • Audience
    Identify the audience to which the author was dressing.
  • Point of view
  • Identify the perspective of the author and ascertain an acknowledged bias. Find undefended assumptions
  • Sources
    Ascertain if the author uses other sources and if he does, tell about the types. Show if the author used his research or a personal opinion.
  • Reliability of the source
    Show the reliability of his work
  • Conclusion
    Show the author’s conclusion about the work and talk about its justification.
  • Features
    Indicate if there are any significant extras like visual aids, reprints of source documents or an annotated bibliography.
  • Strengths and weaknesses
    Show the strength of the work as well as its weaknesses
  • Comparisons
    Show how the source relates to other works done by other people on the same topic. Show if the work agrees or disagrees with another point of view or author. Demonstrate any work that could support or dispute it.
  • Personal conclusion
    Give your personal point of view on the work or your reaction to the source based on other available works, previous knowledge of the topic or knowledge pools done by other authors.

Types of annotations

Annotations are written for different purposes and you can get examples of annotated bibliographies. There are three types of annotations, and they depend on what is significant to you or your instructor. There is no standard procedure for all types of annotations since once annotation cannot fit all the purposes. You have to consult your instructor for you to know the best type of annotation to use.  For instance, if you are required to give evidence that proves an analytical understanding of the sources you have used, you have to write analytical annotated bibliographies. This includes the evaluation of the sources that you are using.

Formats of writing your annotated bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies have two main sections that include the bibliographic information section and the annotations section. The formats may vary slightly from one institution to the next as well as amongst the scholars. This depends on the regulations, course, and material being annotated. It is important to ask for guidelines that are more specific.

  • Bibliographic information
    This is written before the annotation style using the appropriate style of referencing. It uses a hanging indent. The bibliographies information of the source is written in either MLA or APA format.
  • The annotations
    Annotations for every source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from one several sentences to a couple of pages. This annotation should not exceed 200 words when summarising sources; the annotations should not be very long. However, if it involves writing an extensive analysis of each source, you may need more space.  You can use a few general summary sentences followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into a larger paper or project to help you while you are drafting.

Annotations versus abstracts

Abstracts are descriptive paragraphs found at the beginning of a scholarly journal article or in periodical indexes. Annotations on the flipside are descriptive and critical. They describe the author’s point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of the expression. 

The process

When creating annotated bibliographies, you have to apply a variety of skills, which include concise exposition, succinct analysis and informed library research. You first need to locate and record the citations to periodicals, books, and documents that contain useful information and ideas that relate to your topic. Give a brief examination and review the actual items. Select the work that has a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or the document using the specified style. Write a concise annotation summarising the thesis statement and the scope of the bool or article. Include several sentences that evaluate the authority or the background of the author comment on the target audience, compare and contrast his work with another source and finally explain how his works illuminate your bibliography topic.

The quality and usefulness of your bibliography hinges on your selection of all your sources and the examples of annotated bibliographies that you use as models. Make good judgement of your sources.

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