Effective Steps to Creating an Annotated Bibliography – 2024 Guide

Writing an annotated bibliography is a task that both students and professionals may find challenging. It requires less time than the research paper itself, but it is an integral part of many projects. The main idea is to show which sources you have used to prove that the audience can rely on your results. It is necessary, so your reader can further research the topic, exploring more deeply the sources used in your project.

An annotated bibliography can be assigned as either a separate task or a part of the research project. In any case, you can find out how to write this type of content in our post.

Defining an Annotated Bibliography: How Is It Different from an Abstract?

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An annotated bibliography is often confused with literature reviews and abstracts. According to the official dictionary, this word stands for the list of citations to sources that inspire writers in their research. Except for the full citation, just like a Works Cited or References page should have, a writer should add roughly 150 words, describing the content of the source in general.

The goal is to let the audience know the reasons behind choosing a specific book, magazine, newspaper, website, or other sources of info. For instance, the main reasons might be credibility, urgency, and overall quality of research. A writer may also add a few words about the author. It should be a field expert. To sum up, a student who composes an annotated bibliography should:

  • Provide an outlook on the relevant content
  • Convince the readers of your truth and the right choice of sources
  • Stress the importance of the discussed topic or question
  • Exemplify the scope of data
  • Highlight the credibility and versatility of the study
  • Observe and recommend sources related to the specific topic
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In contrast, an abstract is the summary of the results of your own study, as well as methods used to conduct research. While abstracts are purely informative, annotations are critical and analytical, and they evaluate the chosen sources. A writer should not necessarily agree with the original author.

The Basic Rules to Follow When Creating an Annotated Bibliography

Every entry in an annotated bibliography should be precise and straight-to-the-point. Stick to the word count recommended by your instructor. Each annotation should be around 150 words, while the paper itself might be 2-3 or even more pages, depending on the complexity of your project. Avoid wateriness and odd details in your annotations. If you want to ensure your final draft’s quality, you may use various online grammar and spelling checking tools or get help from services like bestcustomwriting.com.

Do not involve background readings and references to the last papers of the same contributor. You can omit in-text quotations in every entry of an annotated bibliography. Finally, it is necessary to write complete sentences with a professional dictionary’s help using the required terminology.

How to Start an Annotated Bibliography?

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This type of document begins with the bibliographic information of a source supported by a short description. We already know that it is called an annotation.

The author should arrange all of the used sources in alphabetical order. A summary or mini-review of the article or book has to be around two hundred words per quotation. Your instructor defines the length of this assignment, so consult him before starting your draft. Discuss the components of an annotated bibliography.

We have prepared detailed step-by-step instruction for students, explaining how to come up with an A+ annotated bibliography for any project. Besides learning the subject, an annotated bibliography is an important type of assignment and should be done up to the standards.

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Major Stages of Developing a Good Annotated Bibliography

Why would anyone need to prepare an annotated bibliography? The thing is that your academic or scientific paper should contain some facts, statistics, and/or quotations of field experts to sound persuasive and useful. Your goal is to make the audience believe you. Thus, you will have to consult some authorities. If you copy-paste info from other sources, it would be considered plagiarism, and you could lose all points. To score high, it is necessary to learn how to create an annotated bibliography from scratch.

Look out for sources

In some cases, the teachers provide students with the sources to use. They might give you handouts or ask you to use the specific textbook from a college library. However, often, students have to decide on the topic and relevant sources on their own. In-depth research is a must, and it might be a challenge to find credible, up-to-date sources. Go to the physical or online library. If you surf the web, enter buzzwords associated with your assignment. You will see the list of books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and websites related to the topic.

Critically evaluate the source

Collect info or biography outtakes about the author to understand his arguments better. You may study reviews of others to come up with a more-or-less objective summary and analysis of the source. Have a look at the examples of bibliographies to get a better picture.

Decide on the citation format

In fact, your teacher should tell you which writing style to apply to your piece of writing. APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian – those are some of the popular options. Choose the one that corresponds to your subject, type of assignment, or school name. For example, students of Harvard University will have to cite their works using Harvard citation format; those who write for psychology class will use APA, etc.

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Entry example

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We have chosen the most commonly used writing style in academics, APA. This annotation was made with respect to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, seventh edition) for the journal citation (it is the latest release of the guide book):

Rice, M., Goldfinger, J., and Maryland, K. (2017). Factors that predetermine the development of social anxiety in young adolescents. American Sociological Review, 48, 432-441.

The three authors, who are all professors from the Michigan University, apply data from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) to examine their hypothesis that social anxiety syndrome mostly develops in kids from families with a low level of income or unemployed parents. This way, the researchers want to show the correlation between social status and family members’ emotional condition, especially those of a younger age. They observe the traits, behaviors, goals, and hopes of children who suffer from social anxiety syndrome and some other closely related mental disorders. Authors find their theory firmly supported in the underaged male population that prefer holding their emotions instead of expressing them, which leads to adverse consequences and negative changes in their behavior and mental health.

Now you know how an annotated bibliography should look like. You will benefit from learning how to work with this type of document for the entire life. You should not memorize all rules by heart, but, at least, keep in mind the general outline for this assignment, as well as its basic elements.