An annotated bibliography provides a brief account of the available research on a given topic. It is a list of research sources that includes concise descriptions and evaluations of each source.
The annotation usually contains a brief summary of content and a short analysis or evaluation. Depending on your assignment, you may be asked to reflect, summarise, critique, evaluate or analyse the source.
An annotated bibliography may be a component of a larger project or it may be a stand-alone assignment. While an annotation can be as brief as one sentence, the standard annotated bibliography consists of a citation followed by a short paragraph. An example is provided below.
Please note: the advice in this guide is general. We strongly recommend that you also follow your assignment instructions and seek clarification from your lecturer/tutor if needed.
When set as an assignment, an annotated bibliography allows you to get acquainted with the material available on a particular topic.
Depending on your specific assignment, an annotated bibliography might:
You need to consider carefully the texts that you select for your annotated bibliography. Keep the following questions in mind to help clarify your choices.
An annotated bibliography starts with the bibliographic details of a source (the citation) followed by a brief annotation.
As with a normal reference list or bibliography, an annotated bibliography is usually arranged alphabetically according to the author’s last name. An annotated bibliography summary should be about 100 - 200 words per citation—check with your lecturer/tutor as this may vary between faculties and assessments. Please also check with your lecturer about the elements each annotation should include.
An annotation may contain all or part of the following elements depending on the word limit and the content of the sources you are examining.
The citation goes first and is followed by the annotation. Make sure that you follow your faculty’s preferred citation style. The summary needs to be concise. Please note the following example is entirely fictitious.
In the sample annotation below, each element is numbered (see Key).
(1) Trevor, C.O., Lansford, B. and Black, J.W., 2004, ‘Employee turnover and job performance: monitoring the influences of salary growth and promotion’, Journal of Armchair Psychology, vol 113, no.1, pp. 56-64.
(2) In this article Trevor et al. review the influences of pay and job opportunities in respect to job performance, turnover rates and employee motivation.(3) The authors use data gained through organisational surveys of blue-chip companies in Vancouver, Canada to try to identify the main causes of employee turnover and whether it is linked to salary growth.(4) Their research focuses on assessing a range of pay structures such as pay for performance and organisational reward schemes.(5) The article is useful to my research topic, as Trevor et al. suggest that there are numerous reasons for employee turnover and variances in employee motivation and performance.(6) The main limitation of the article is that the survey sample was restricted to mid-level management,(7) thus the authors indicate that further, more extensive, research needs to be undertaken to develop a more in-depth understanding of employee turnover and job performance.(8) This article will not form the basis of my research; however it will be useful supplementary information for my research on pay structures.
(3) Aims & Research methods
(5) Usefulness (to your research/ to a particular topic)
(8) Reflection (explain how this work illuminates your topic or how it will fit in with your research)