What Is A Good Annotated Bibliography Topic

Transcript

You have just been given an assignment to write an annotated bibliography. Before you begin, you need to know what exactly an annotated bibliography is and how to get started.

First, what is an annotation?

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, Web site or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

How is an annotation different from an abstract?

While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, Web site or other type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

Types of annotated bibliographies

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

  1. Descriptive or informative
  2. Analytical or critical


Descriptive or informative

A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract, it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question, its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

For example:

Breeding evil. (2005, August 6). Economist, 376(8438), 9. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com

This editorial from the Economist describes the controversy surrounding video games and the effect they have on people who use them. The author points out that skepticism of new media have gone back to the time of the ancient Greeks, so this controversy surrounding video games is nothing new. The article also points out that most critics of gaming are people over 40 and it is an issue of generations not understanding one another, rather than of the games themselves. As the youth of today grow older, the controversy will die out, according to the author. The author of this article stresses the age factor over violence as the real reason for opposition to video games and stresses the good gaming has done in most areas of human life. This article is distinctive in exploring the controversy surrounding video games from a generational standpoint and is written for a general audience.

Please pay attention to the last sentence. While it points out distinctive features about the item it does not analyze the author's conclusions.

Analytical or critical

An analytical or critical annotation not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.

For most of your annotated bibliographies, however, you will be writing analytical or critical annotations.

For example:

Breeding evil. (2005, August 6). Economist, 376(8438), 9. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com

This editorial from the Economist describes the controversy surrounding video games and the effect they have on people who use them. The article points out that most critics of gaming are people over 40 and it is an issue of age not of the games themselves. While the author briefly mentions studies done around the issue of violence and gaming, he does not go into enough depth for the reader to truly know the range of studies that have actually been done in this area, other than to take his word that the research is unsatisfactory. The author of this article stresses the age factor over violence as the real reason for opposition to video games and stresses the good gaming has done in most areas of human life. This article is a good resource for those wanting to begin to explore the controversy surrounding video games, however for anyone doing serious research, one should actually examine some of the research studies that have been done in this area rather than simply take the author's word that opposition to video games is simply due to an issue of generational divide.

Please pay attention to the last sentence. It criticizes the authors research.

Please note that in these samples, the citations follow the APA format. Your instructor may require you to use another citation format, such as MLA, so check first.

To get started

Now you are ready to begin writing your own annotated bibliography.

  • Choose your sources Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the items Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • Write the citation and annotation When writing your annotation, the complete citation should always come first and the annotation follows. Depending on the type of annotated bibliography you are writing, you will want to include:
    1. The purpose of the work
    2. A summary of its content
    3. For what type of audience the work is written
    4. Its relevance to the topic
    5. Any special or unique features about the material
    6. The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he or she prefers.

Guidelines for formatting the citations

Remember, the citations themselves must be formatted properly. UMUC has prepared these guides to help you correctly format citations according to APA, MLA or Chicago Style. Remember to check with your instructor if you are unsure which style to use.

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Top

You gather sources for an Annotated Bibliography in order to get ready to write a research paper. Here are the steps to get started:

1. Decide on your topic idea by thinking about topics you are interested in researching, then narrow that topic by finding a specific question that your paper will answer. For examples of good questions see 100 Argument or Position Essay Topics with Sample Essays.

2. Choose on Search Terms which will help you. Consider search terms which will help both in proving ideas about your question, and your answer to that question. Ask a librarian for help if you can't find search terms. Google can actually help you too. Type your search term ideas into Google and see what suggestions they have of similar searches. Try Google Scholar for peer-reviewed sources you can use in your essay.

3. Gather sources for your topic from the Internet and library that you think will help you answer the question. Since not all the sources may actually work out for your topic, you either need to skim over them as you go or pick more than you will need, so you can choose the best.
4. Read your sources carefully and annotate them, which means that you take notes and underline so that you:

  • Know the main points of the paper.
  • Analyze whether the arguments and evidence is strong or weak.
  • Decide what ideas in the source could be useful in your own paper.

5. Make a correct Bibliographical Entry for your article. Hint: Many online sources may have a Bibliographical citation for you at the end of the paper. If they don't, see my steps for writing an MLA Bibliography for help in writing your own and links to some online reference tools that can make the Bibliography for you.

6. Write out your own summary of each article. Remember that your summary should not include quotes and that the words you use should be your own and not the author you are quoting.

7. Write a response to the article which indicates what you think about the ideas and arguments.

8. Write how you will use this article in your Research paper. Thinking about how you can put this source into your paper is the most important part of this process. Deciding how you will use this information can help you write your outline and also help you to figure out which part of your essay needs more information and research.

9. Put Your Bibliography together. The Annotated Bibliography is a single document with the sources put together in alphabetical order based on the last name of the author (or the title of the source if there is no author). The format of each source is:

  • Bibliographical Citation
  • Summary
  • Your response, or what you think about this source.
  • How you can use this source in your paper.

Note: Check the instructions for your paper. Not all assignments will include writing a response and how you will use in your paper although you might want to make these notes to help you remember what you thought when you begin to write.

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