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Annotated Bibliography Breakdown

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Stem Cell Research: An Annotated Bibliography

Holland, Suzanne. The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy . Boston: MIT P, 2001.

This is the annotation of the above source, which is formatted according to MLA 2016 (8 th ed.) guidelines for the bibliographic information listed above. If one were really writing an annotation for this source, one would offer a brief summary of what this book says about stem cell research.

After a brief summary, it would be appropriate to assess this source and offer some criticisms of it. Does it seem like a reliable and current source? Why? Is the research biased or objective? Are the facts well documented? Who is the author? Is she qualified in this subject? Is this source scholarly, popular, some of both?

The length of your annotation will depend on the assignment or on the purpose of your annotated bibliography. After summarizing and assessing, you can now reflect on this source. How does it fit into your research? Is this a helpful resource? Too scholarly? Not scholarly enough? Too general/specific? Since "stem cell research" is a very broad topic, has this source helped you to narrow your topic?

Senior, K. "Extending the Ethical Boundaries of Stem Cell Research." Trends in Molecular Medicine , vol. 7, 2001, pp. 5-6.

Not all annotations have to be the same length. For example, this source is a very short scholarly article. It may only take a sentence or two to summarize. Even if you are using a book, you should only focus on the sections that relate to your topic.

Not all annotated bibliographies assess and reflect; some merely summarize. That may not be the most helpful for you, but, if this is an assignment, you should always ask your instructor for specific guidelines.

Wallace, Kelly. "Bush Stands Pat on Stem Cell Policy." CNN . 13 Aug. 2001.

Using a variety of sources can help give you a broader picture of what is being said about your topic. You may want to investigate how scholarly sources are treating this topic differently than more popular sources. But again, if your assignment is to only use scholarly sources, then you will probably want to avoid magazines and popular web sites.

The bibliographic information above is proper MLA format (use whatever style is appropriate in your field) and the annotations are in paragraph form. Note also that the entries are alphabetized by the first word in the bibliographic entry. If you are writing an annotated bibliography with many sources, it may be helpful to divide the sources into categories. For example, if putting together an extensive annotated bibliography for stem cell research, it might be best to divide the sources into categories such as ethical concerns, scholarly analyses, and political ramifications.

For more examples, a quick search at a library or even on the Internet should produce several examples of annotated bibliographies in your area.

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Sample Abstract from ERIC

The image below shows an example Abstract that includes the purpose, methods, results, and implications (in that order). 

example Abstract that includes the purpose, methods, results, and implications (in that order)

Save annotations in EBSCO account

Use the "Create Note" tool and write your annotation. Copy/paste it to your paper.  Or sign up for an EBSCO account (free) so you can save notes.

Create note feature located on the left pointed out in the EBSCO interface

Save your annotations in your EndNote Basic Account

If you are using your EndNote Basic account to keep track of your references,

  • write your annotation in the the "Reference Notes" field,   
  • then when you are FORMATING your paper and creating your BIBLIOGRAPHY, choose the STYLE APA ANNOTATION SENTENCE STYLE.

formatted bibliography with APA style selected as the style

Example of Annotated Bibliographies entries (in APA format)  

Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among  young adults.  American Sociological Review,   51,  541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.  

Graybosch, A., Scott, G.M. & Garrison, S. (1998). The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Designed to serve as either as a writing guide or as a primary textbook for teaching philosophy through writing, the  Manual  is an excellent resource for students new to philosophy. Like other books in this area, the  Manual  contains sections on grammar, writing strategies, introductory informal logic and the different types of writing encountered in various areas of philosophy. Of particular note, however, is the section on conducting research in philosophy. The research strategies and sources of information described there are very much up-to-date, including not only directories and periodical indexes, but also research institutes, interest groups and Internet resources.

Examples of What Your Bibliography Should Not Look Like:

Marieb, Elaine N. (1992). Human Anatomy and Physiology  Redwood City, CA: The Benjamin/ Cummings Co.

  • I use this book to get the basic information about arthritis, it was very informative.

Keefe FJ., (1996) Pain in Arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders.  Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 24, 279-290

  • I got all the facts about exercising with arthritis and the different types of exercise.

How to write an annotated blbiography

An annotated bibliography is....

  • a list of citations to books, articles, and documents
  • in an appropriate style format  i.e.,APA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.
  • with brief (usually about 150 words)  descriptive and evaluative  paragraphs -- the annotations (or abstracts).

The annotations  inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources;  they expose the  author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.

The Process

  • First, locate books, articles, reports, etc. Use library databases like ERIC ,   Education Source   or Google Scholar . Get help on this at  http://guides.lib.purdue.edu/education .
  • Select those works that provide a  variety of perspectives  on your topic.
  • Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

example citation in EBSCO

  • Write  ( do not copy the abstract from the database) a concise annotation that  summarizes the central theme and scope  of the book or article. Include  one or more sentences  that:

o    evaluate the authority or background of the author,

o    comment on the intended audience,

o    compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or

o    explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

The annotation should include most, if not all, of the following:

  • Explanation of the  main purpose and scope  of the cited work;
  • Brief description of the work's  format and content ;
  • Theoretical basis and  currency of the author's argument ;
  • Author's  intellectual/academic credentials ;
  • Work's  intended audience ;
  • Value and significance  of the work as a contribution to the subject under consideration;
  • Possible  shortcomings or bias  in the work;
  • Any  significant special features  of the work (e.g., glossary, appendices, particularly good index);
  • Your own brief impression of the work .

An annotated bibliography is an  original work created by you . Don't copy the annotation from the book introduction or jacket. Write it yourself. Copying is plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty.

How to Write an Abstract

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Annotated Bibliographies

Sample apa annotated bibliography, what is an annotated bibliography, purpose of an annotated bibliography, video: annotated bibliography formatting (apa 7).

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References are written and formatted normally, but directly underneath each reference is the summary/annotation for the reference. Every line of this annotation is indented 5 spaces more than the 2nd line of the reference itself.

An annotated bibliography is a list of references with an added feature - a paragraph below each reference called an annotation.

An annotation may include the following information:

  • Assessment (also called Evaluation )

Your instructor will explain the details she/he wants included in an annotation for a specific assignment.

The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The length of the annotations can vary depending on the purpose and your instructor's directions.

Information adapted from the Annotated Bibliographies created by the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab.

Depending on the assignment, the annotated bibliography may serve a number of purposes, including but not limited to:

  • A review of the literature on a particular subject
  • Illustrate the quality of research that you have done
  • Provide examples of the types of sources available
  • Describe other items on a topic that may be of interest to the reader
  • Explore the subject for further research

Always ask your instructor what she wants you to include and if there are any formatting guidelines she would like followed.

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purdue apa annotated bibliography example

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Learn how to write and format an annotated bibliography in APA Style (7th ed.).

Conducting research and documenting your findings is an essential part of the academic writing process. There are times when you will need (or be required) to conduct initial research prior to deciding on a thesis or focus for your writing. An annotated bibliography is a helpful tool to help you track and assess your sources.

Similar to formatting a paper, an annotated bibliography is formatted with double spacing and has a title page. An annotated bibliography does not typically include a list of references, since the annotated bibliography itself is a list of references, only each entry also provides information about the source.

Components of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography includes a reference entry and a short annotation (paragraph) for each source. How annotations are written depends on the purpose of the research. There are two main components for each source included in an annotated bibliography:

  • Bibliographic Information : This includes the same information you would provide in a reference list, formatted according to a reference entry for the particular type of source it is.
  • Annotation : This is a short paragraph about the source that oftentimes summarizes the source and evaluates the usefulness of the source for your research paper or project, but what you include in the paragraph will largely depend on your particular assignment requirements.

Purposes of Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an annotated bibliography is an effective way to document the research process and better prepare for a first draft. By requiring an annotated bibliography, your professor is setting you up for success. Some of the purposes and benefits of writing an annotated bibliography include the following:

  • Formulate a thesis : Conducting research is a prewriting activity that can help narrow the focus of a topic that you are researching. Writing annotations for each source can help you understand the breadth and depth of a subject and determine your focus.
  • Review the literature : An annotated bibliography can help you analyze the available literature on a subject. This is especially helpful for relatively new or persuasive topics where it is important to read about multiple sides of an issue.
  • Illustrate the direction of your research : An employer or professor may want a preview of your research prior to the final draft of your paper. An annotated bibliography is a way to show your current research and its usefulness.
  • Help other researchers : When other researchers find your paper particularly engaging, they often will examine your reference entries. However, an annotated bibliography provides more information about a source, such as a summary, which allows researchers to make an informed decision about whether to locate that source. With a references list, the reader has to guess whether a source will be useful and relevant.

Ways to Annotate Sources

There are several ways to write annotations depending on the purpose or the requirements of the assignment or research. Common approaches to writing annotations include the following:

  • Summarize the source : Summarizing the source means to state briefly the main ideas of the source in relation to the current research. For instance, a medical book may have multiple chapters, but the only part to summarize for this source is the information that pertains to the research for the current paper’s topic. Please note: A summary must be written in your own words.
  • Evaluate the source : To evaluate a source means you determine the strengths and weaknesses of the piece in relation to a particular research topic. When evaluating a source, the reliability and validity of the source are also determined. Reliability refers to the source’s credibility. Is it biased? Is the article from a website that is also selling a product related to the subject of the article? Is there a hidden agenda in the source? Validity indicates the accuracy or correctness of the information. Is the information gathered from experts? Is it just the opinion of the author? Is the author an authority on the topic at hand? What are their professional or academic credentials?
  • Reflect on the usefulness of the source : How does this source fit in with the current research project? Is this a source you can use in your paper? Does it help define a problem or present an argument that would add depth and detail to your research? Is it better suited as a starting point to find other sources (i.e., is it useful only for background information)?
  • Combination : Any combination of the above approaches to writing an annotation may be required. You may choose to write a separate short paragraph for each approach, or combine them into one annotation. As always, it is essential that you are careful to restate things in your own words to avoid plagiarizing an authors’ original words or ideas.

Sample Annotated Bibliography

Note. When formatting an Annotated Bibliography on a Word document, the bibliographic references have hanging indents .

Baker, B. (2003, November 27). Version control helps keep rework to a minimum. *EDN, 48*(26), 227-232. https://doi.org/10.9999/1.111111

This is a short article geared mostly toward digital developers who either are programming more than 10,000 lines of code or are programming within teams. It also emphasizes the importance of a VCS, but more so in the development environment. For this project, the only thing I might use this for is the simple statement that while a VCS is great for any work environment, without the discipline to use it regularly, they are worthless.

Huber, T. (2005, May). *JEDI version control system*. SourceForge. https://jedivcs.sourceforge.net

This site includes detailed instructions for operating an open source VCS. It is written for a technical audience that must have some background on this particular system. What is interesting about this site is the idea of open source. Maybe there are other version control systems available via the Internet through shareware sites. This particular site will probably not be used in writing the final project, but it is a source that can lead to further research on this idea of freeware for a VCS.

McVittie, L. (2007). Version control, with integrity. *Network Computing, 12*(21), 34-45. https://doi.org/10.9999/2.222222

This is an informative article with an overview of the details inside a VCS—branching, configuration, repository, access management, and more. What makes this article valuable though is the overview of several version control systems on the market (at least in 2001). After reading through the overview of several products, if one fits what my company is looking for, I can begin searching for that product and further information on the Internet. This article may or may not be used in the actual writing of the final proposal, but it will be useful information for further research on the project.

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Annotated Bibliography Samples

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  • Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliographies Provides explanations for how to write an annotated bibliography, proper formatting, and samples. From Purdue Online Writing Lab.
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Annotated Bibliography

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MLA Example Citation

Santino, Jack. “Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances.” Western Folklore , vol. 42, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1–20. JSTOR , www.jstor.org/stable/1499461. 

  • MLA Template for Annotated Bib This document has placeholders and presets to adhere to the style and form of MLA. Download the template and place your content into the document. Note the instructional comments on the side of the template. 
  • Sample Annotated Bib: MLA From the Writing Center at UNC is a sampling of different annotation types with MLA format.
  • MLA Annotated Bibliography This document has two citations separated by the annotation for each source.
  • Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliography Samples

APA Example Citation

Santino, J. “Halloween in America: Contemporary customs and performances.” Western Folklore, 42 , (1), 1983, 1–20. JSTOR , www.jstor.org/stable/1499461. 

  • Sample Annotated Bib: APA From the Writing Center at UNC is a sampling of different annotation types in APA format.

Chicago (CMOS)  Example Citation

Santino, Jack. “Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances.” Western Folklore 42, no. 1 (1983): 1-20, www.jstor.org/stable/1499461.

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