Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Graduate students are often required to create annotated bibliographies for research papers. Learn how to evaluate sources for a bibliography and write effective annotated citations.

An annotated bibliography is...

  • An alphabetical list of your research sources cited in the required format e.g., MLA, APA, etc.
  • A concise summary of each of your research sources.
  • An explanation of the relevance of each source to your research paper—how does each source relate to your paper and why did you choose it?

To decide which of your sources to use, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problem am I investigating?
  • What questions am I asking?
  • What types of research sources will best help me answer my questions? For example, peer reviewed journal articles, books, magazines, websites, personal interviews, etc.

To summarize a source, you need to...

  • Briefly restate the main argument of your research source.
  • Identify the main methods or purpose of your research source.
  • State the source's main conclusions.

To explain the relevance of each source to your research paper, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like the way the research source presents information, arguments, research questions, and methodologies? Why or why not?
  • Does my research source look at a particular demographic, idea, or theory? Does it work in a way that is useful to me? Why or why not?
  • How does the source relate to my own question or investigation?

An example of an annotated citation in APA format:

Hurlbert, C. (2012). National Healing: Race, State, and the Teaching of Composition. Utah State University Press.

In National Healing Hurlbert (2012) asks teachers and scholars to study the rhetoric and writing of non-Western traditions in order to move past the monolingual approaches to meaning making that are embedded within the “nationalistic” power structures of first year composition. Hurlbert (2012) speaks to the demographic of our institutions that are increasingly enriched with international students each year.

As the field of composition moves towards new, multilingual approaches to the teaching of writing, Hurlbert's “international approach” is timely. He writes, "internationalism inspires understanding and peace by standing as an antidote to Eurocentrism's universalist tendencies. One of the best ways to understand, work with, and live with others is to learn as much as we can about how they make meaning" (p. 177). Hurlbert's (2012) book emphasizes that we cannot learn about how others make meaning if we continue to look and listen for familiarity.

My own rhetorical analysis of the discourse of multilingual writers on an Internet forum is a response to Hurlbert's book: moving outside of the zone of familiarity in my analysis, I use “the art of recontextualization” to move between the familiar and unfamiliar.

Written by: Rachel Griffo

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