This video will introduce you to how to write an annotated bibliography. At some time during your studies at university, it is likely that you will be asked to write an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is essentially a list of sources with a brief note, (or annotation), summarizing each item on the list.

The main difference between it and a ‘Works Cited’ reference list, is that you would normally complete one before you start writing your research paper.

For some students, the annotated bibliography is a stand-alone assignment. But for others, it’s just one stage of a larger project, to be used as a reference tool as you complete your research paper.

Annotated bibliographies let others know what the key sources are on a particular topic.

They’re important because:

  • they help you to see how different sources fit together to shape your research
  • they remind you to give credit where credit is due in order to avoid plagiarism
  • they often help you to verify facts which adds credibility to your own research path, but more importantly, an annotated bibliography demonstrates your research progress!

Creating a bibliography is pretty straight forward since it’s a record of the sources you’ve chosen, in the style that your course instructor has selected.

However, this process involves setting aside time to research for a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. The quality of your annotated bibliography will depend on the selection of your sources.

Your course instructor probably has specific instructions for exactly what the annotations should include and how long each one should be, so make sure you read your assignment carefully.

Generally speaking, each annotation should be about 150 – 200 words long and can:

  • assess the source’s strengths and weaknesses
  • give an outline the main arguments
  • provide background information about the author
  • describe how the source is relevant to your topic

Annotated bibliographies remind you why you selected a certain source, why it’s relevant, and even whether or not you agreed or disagreed with its main arguments, so it’s best to get started compiling your list of sources early and writing your own annotations.

Thank you for watching. If you need additional help, please come and visit us at the research help desk on the main floor of the library or contact your subject specialist from the Research Help section of the library website.

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