Annotated Bibliography -6 Structure and 7 tips to note while writing an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography -6 Structure and 7 tips to note while writing an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

In its simplest form, an Annotated Bibliography can be defined as the brief summarization of a list of cited resources like books, journals, articles and so on. In other words, an Annotated Bibliography provides a brief account of the available resources which were used to conduct the research.

The essence of an Annotated Bibliography is to prove the accuracy and validity of the resources which were consulted for particular research. In academic writing, an Annotated Bibliography can either be given to a student as a single assignment or as a part of a much bigger form of research work.

What are the characteristics of an Annotated Bibliography?

The characteristics of an Annotated Bibliography include:

  • It is mainly written for/by students, lecturers and researchers.
  • The reviewed resources in the citation consist of about 150-200 words each.
  • It is usually narrowed down to a specific field and a specific topic.
  • It contains a list of resources written by scholars in a particular field.
  • It is written according to the requirements of the referencing style in that particular field.

How to properly structure an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography can be structured and written in the following steps:

1. Commence with a full bibliographic citation.

Before providing brief summaries of the researched work, it is important to commence the piece with a full list of all the citations. This process also applies to a situation whereby the student or writer is asked to create an annotated bibliography on its own, without a much bigger research piece to back it up.

It should be noted that the general process can be altered if the lecturer or reader requires a different structure, hence, it is always important to read the instructions attached to the assignment. The list of citations can be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, depending on the requirements of the referencing style which is associated with that particular discipline.

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2. Start each review with a brief introduction of the cited work.

After providing a full bibliographic citation, the next step will be to single out each cited work and provide a brief account of it. This might take a paragraph or two, depending on the number of words which the writer is expected to use. Before providing a brief review of the citation, it is important to identify the cited work which will be reviewed in the paragraph.

For example:

The journal, Discrimination in Hiring based on Potential and Realized Fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment by Becker, Sascha., Fernandes, Ana and Weichselbamer, Doris talks about…

3. Outline the key argument:

An annotated bibliography ought to be as brief as possible, hence, it is important to go straight to always go straight to the point. The best way to do this is by identifying the key point or argument in the research immediately after identifying the writer and the topic of the cited work. Words like ‘aim’, ‘talks about’, ‘exposes’, ‘relies on’ and so on, can be used to link the two steps together.

For example:

The journal, Discrimination in Hiring based on Potential and Realized Fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment by Becker, Sascha., Fernandes, Ana and Weichselbamer, Doris exposes the gender discrimination which occurs in the hiring processes in different countries.

4. Identify the research method(s) which was used by the Author:

The next step will be to identify the research methods which were used by the author(s) during the course of the research. While creating this portion of the annotated bibliography, it is important to ask and answer the following questions:

  • Did the author(s) use the qualitative or quantitative method of research?
  • Did the author(s) make use of diagrams, surveys, charts and so on, during the course of the research?
  • How much effectiveness and validity did this method contribute to the author’s research?
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If the writer is able to provide brief answers to these questions, he/she will be able to write this portion of the annotated bibliography without much fuss.

5. State the conclusion(s) reached by the Author(s):

After stating the research method used by the Author(s), the next step will be to provide a brief summary of the conclusion(s) reached by the author(s) regarding the subject matter of the piece. After making the conclusion(s) known, the writer can also:

  • Agree or disagree with the author regarding the conclusion.
  • Indicate whether or not the conclusion added any form of relevance to the related field.
  • State a more ideal or advanced version of the conclusion, in case the Author’s ideology was not fully formed.

6. Identify the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the research:

The last step will be to briefly criticize or appraise the research. This entirely depends on the writer’s view of the research and it can be done under the guise of identifying either the strengths, weaknesses or limitations of the particular research.

While writing this portion of the bibliography, the writer can also:

  • State the areas that he/she feels that the author should have focused on more.
  • State the relevance of this research to the subject matter and other related subject matters in the field.
  • Identify the areas which were irrelevant or lacked proper argument in the research.

Important tips to note while writing an Annotated Bibliography

  • An annotated bibliography ought to be as brief as possible, hence, it is important to employ the ultimate skill of summarization.
  • Read and understand the cited work before writing a brief account of the research.
  • Always read the instructions attached to the assignment before commencing the academic piece, some lecturers may require a different format.
  • Research the referencing style related to your field of study and master it before commencing the academic piece.
  • Each summary may contain a paragraph or two, depending on the number of words. If a particular summary takes two or more paragraphs, remember to double space before starting a fresh summary.
  • Do not provide a full bibliographic list again after writing your summary, it was already done at the beginning of the academic piece.
  • If you are asked to pick a topic, select one that is related to your field of study.


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