- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

Writing An Annotated Bibliography

Many graduate students write a thesis or dissertation during their last year of graduate school. One of the steps in writing this is an annotated bibliography that shows prior research on a specific topic. An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of books, articles, and documents. Each citation should list the author, title, journal, date, volume, issues, and page number. The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of each of the citations.

Annotated Bibliography

Annotations should describe the topic and how it is critical to the research topic. It should discuss the author's point of view and why the author has the authority to discuss the topic. The process of writing an annotated bibliography is researching the topic that has been chosen for the thesis or dissertation. The first step is researching to find what information is available about the topic. What journal articles are available? What government documents are available on the topic? What books are available? A thorough search should be completed for information on the topic.

Use a variety of methods to find information already published. Most colleges have a library with specific search tools to be used. Check the Internet for journal articles on the topic. Check to see how credible the information is. Search the library for available books on the topic. Check the search engines for government or educational documents on the topic.

The best way to search the Internet is through the use of key words. What words relate the topic? Try several key words in searching the Internet. Try different combinations of key words when using different search engines.

Read the research chosen. The one mistake that many students make is not reading the research. It is important to know what the research says and how it is related to the research topic. What does the author say? How does it relate to your topic? What is important about the information? What needs to be further researched and why? Read searching for information related to the research topic. What research methods were used in previous studies? How do different authors address the topic? Know the research material before trying to write the annotated bibliography.

The next step is writing a concise annotation that summarizes the information read. What was the central theme of the material? Who was the intended audience in the material? Compare and contrast one source with another source on the topic. How does this work illuminate the research being done? Why? It is important to take time to critically appraise the research chosen. Make notations to add to the annotated bibliography as you do your research.

When doing the annotated bibliography it is important to use the right style. What style has the instructor suggested using. Each article should briefly state what the article was about and how it is related to the research topic. Ask the instructor if you are unsure of how to use a specific style or check the Internet for the correct use of different styles.

Check the annotated bibliography for any mistakes. Check it for grammar errors. Have you used quotation marks to start a sentence and forgot to put the ending quotation mark? Have you cited each source? Are there any spelling mistakes?

Have you covered your topic in a clear, logical way? Have you answered questions brought up during the research? Have you thoroughly searched your topic?

Rewrite the annotated bibliography after you proofread it. Ask a friend to go over it to check for errors. The annotated bibliography is an important part of the thesis or dissertation and should be free of errors before giving it to the instructor. Now you are ready to begin the next step in your research project.