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Thursday Mar 21, 2019

Annotated Bibliography Writing Guide

Every student at a certain point learns how to write term papers, case studies, research papers, and many more academic assignments that need an addition of this tricky piece called an annotated bibliography. Let us dive into our own little research and find out what that is, and what you need to do to get a glowing mark for such a task! Get all the distractions aside because now you will learn how to write a proper annotated bibliography.

As we know, the annotation is a short digest of a novel, research paper, article, etc. It provides comprehensive info about the piece and states the contribution it makes into the given research topic.

In simple terms, it is a logical checklist where each paragraph contains a brief summary or description of the text you used when digging up that sweet data.

Depending on an assignment, it may serve different purposes.

  • It can present a literature review of each source.
  • You provide the research you have done with enough backup.
  • The summaries explain examples of the main data sources.
  • Your bibliography is a guide into the topic for other researchers.

If the annotated bibliography was a house, it would have two floors. One would be a descriptive (or informative) floor with fancy Italian furniture that provides value to every source that sits on it and backs up the research. Another would be an analytical (or critical) floor covered in cathouses with each of those containing Pro cats and Con cats that meow to different tunes of your arguments and then all huddle up in a big fluffy pile that is your conclusion.

The Four Core Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

1. Style

First, you need to thoroughly study the source-citing styles. Every college professor, even the most liberal one, will demand you to follow your format requirements very closely. Even the most sophisticated AI in the world shouldn't be able to find a mistake and say that this annotated bibliography in MLA format is wrong. Bureaucracy just works like that.

To avoid any misconceptions, let us overview the three main styles.

  1. MLA
    The MLA style is used for art, literature, philosophy, languages, and architecture.
  2. APA
    This kind of citation usually works for articles on geography, sociology, law, and economics.
  3. CSE
    Papers on physics, astronomy or health sciences, also math, environmental research, computer science, biology.

2. Sources

The next step of annotated bibliography writing is selecting your sources. You should already have it from when you were researching for your paper, but let us assume that you did not and go over it one more time.

Draft up a little list of articles, books, and data found on the Internet. You have to use only authoritative resources and stay away from unknown Internet sites. If there is a need, consult with your college professor about the sources best fitting for your narrative.

Your citation must include the name of the author, full titles of the document, the publisher, and the year of publication. If your source is a website, specify the latest date of someone updating the info. A tip: try to distribute the sources equally without overdoing it with a single website or book. Otherwise, there might be an issue of your supervisors thinking you were too lazy to properly research. You may even be asked to redo everything, and that's just unnecessary headache!

3. Order

You need a clear-cut system. The structured list of the resources will be more comfortable for readers than the chaotic bunch of titles. There are five methods for citation organization for a bibliography:

  • Alphabet
  • Chronological
  • The sub-theme
  • The format
  • The language

4. Annotations

Comment on each source by including a short description of your reference. Going through this tiring process is rewarding for the readers. It leads them into the dark world of confusing sources with the light of your fantastic breakdown and gifts them with more meaningful info.

Try to fit as many theses about the main messages of the book as you can into a few sentences. That way, your annotated bibliography will give the reader an opportunity to evaluate the book's content and provide a relevant connection to your own paper.

State the research object of the book and why you used it. I.e., Catherine Ingram and the other authors of "This is Van Gogh" help the reader deeply understand the tragic backstory of Van Gogh's life and genius.

Assess every source with answers to the following questions:

  • What is the value of this source to my research?
  • How credible is the info?
  • Is it opinionated or fact-based?
  • Is the source current or outdated?

Something to remember here - the basics of the citation rules always stay the same. If your bibliography doesn't match the official guidelines, you will have to redo it.

Ensure that every letter is shining exactly where it has to shine. If something gets in your way, you can always turn to for assistance with this tedious task. Good luck!

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