Writing an annotated bibliography

QUT write: QUT Writing an annotated bibliography
Guidelines for word length
Writing an
annotated bibliography
Approximately a quarter of the annotation
Last updated: February 2008
Approximately half of the annotation
What is an annotated bibliography?
Reflection and closing remarks
An annotated bibliography is an account of research that has been done on a topic. As
with any bibliography, it is an alphabetical list of research sources such as books, articles,
websites and documents. In addition to bibliographic information, it gives a concise
summary of each source, including some assessment of its value or relevance. An
annotated bibliography may be one stage in a larger research project.
Approximately a quarter of the annotation
Final considerations
Crosscheck your annotation against the assessment criteria to make sure you have
addressed all the requirements.
Why do we use annotated bibliographies?
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• Seek peer feedback on the clarity of your writing style.
• Proofread and edit your work.
An annotated bibliography may have a variety of purposes:
• reviewing the literature on your subject
• demonstrating the quality and depth of your reading
For further information and examples of annotated bibliographies go to:
• showing the scope of sources available, e.g. journals, books, websites
• informing the reader of the relevance, accuracy and quality of sources that may be
of interest
• exploring and organising sources for further research.
How do we write an annotated bibliography?
There are two main sections to each annotated bibliography entry:
1. The bibliographic information (the reference).
2. The explanatory paragraphs (the annotation), which provide one or more of the
following elements depending on your assessment requirements:
• a summary of the main arguments or ideas presented by the author
• a critique or evaluation of the source’s usefulness, reliability, objectivity or bias,
and a comparison with other sources
• a reflection on how the source fits into your research.
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QUT write: QUT Writing an annotated bibliography
Below is a sample entry in an annotated bibliography
Number of the reference
Bibliographic information (the reference). This must
include the title, author, publisher and date of the source
using the style specified by your faculty. Follow the
examples in QUT cite|write.
1. Ladenson, E. (2007). Dirt for art’s sake: Books on trial from Madame Bovary to Lolita.
New York: Cornell University Press.
Elisabeth Ladenson sets out to study the changing perceptions of what material is
illicit, and what is art. This book is a deeply researched study of a number of the most
famously banned books, including Ulysses and Lolita. Ladenson has conducted thorough
investigations into the writers’ lives, the reception, and eventual acceptance of their work
into the literary canon.
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Explanatory paragraphs (the annotation). The annotations for each source are
written in paragraph form. The length of your annotations may vary depending
on your purpose and assessment requirements. They must be written using
appropriate language, tone and sentence structure.
QUT write: QUT Writing an annotated bibliography
When writing the annotation, you might like to consider some of the following questions
or sentence starters to focus your thoughts
Questions to consider
Sentence starters
Summary component
The author’s purpose is to challenge common
perceptions of …
What is the author’s purpose?
The author supports this claim with statistics from …
Does the author present
evidence to validate his
This chapter focuses on three main issues. These are …
What are the main ideas
expressed by the author?
Critique or evaluation component
How do the ideas presented
in the text match or differ from
other authors’ ideas?
The author challenges the common notion of …
The theories presented by this author are supported by the
majority of the research in this field …
The article provides a basic overview of …
Is it generalised or specific?
The ideas outlined in this article appear to be largely the
author’s personal opinion as there is a lack of supporting
evidence presented …
Is the text the author’s personal
opinion, or is academic support
This book provides specific, detailed information on ...
The author provides a useful list of suggested further reading
at the end of each chapter …
Are there any references worth
Although written for a knowledgeable audience, the writing
style is informal and the language easy to understand, with
no unnecessary jargon …
Who is the intended audience?
Consider the language or tone
Although an interesting article, it is largely descriptive and
lacks comprehensive analysis of this complicated subject …
Is the piece descriptive or
Reflection component
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This website is very useful as it will provide a balanced
perspective for students wishing to understand this topic ...
How useful was the information?
How will you use it in your own
This article questions the popular notion of … and challenges
the reader to consider alternative viewpoints ...
Did it change your thinking on
the topic?
This chapter provides useful background information and is
helpful as a basic introduction to this complex topic ...
Did the text help you understand
the topic?
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