An annotated bibliography comprises of an extensive list of citations for various books, articles, documents, and other sources you are using in your research project. It may look like a reference page, but the difference lies in the annotation mentioned after each of the cited sources. An annotation is a summary or critical evaluation of the source under consideration. The motive behind writing an annotation is to keep the reader informed about the relevance, quality, and the accuracy of the sources cited and used by a researcher.
Before we delve into the concept of annotated bibliography, it is vital to understand the difference between annotations and abstract. While abstracts are descriptive summaries found at the beginning of scholarly articles, annotations are critical and explanatory. They describe the point of view of the author, authority and the clarity of expression. It is essential to remind yourself that annotated bibliographies could be a standalone report or a part of a larger research project depending on the paper you are working on.
There are two types of annotations, namely, summary and evaluative annotations. Summary annotations explain the source by describing the writer, what the document consists of, place and time of writing the document, the purpose behind producing the document and how it became public. The focus of a summary annotation is on the description.
On the other hand, an evaluative annotation consists of a summary similar to one mentioned above, but it also aims to assess the work for relevance and quality critically. An evaluative annotation not just assists you in learning about the topic but also in developing a thesis statement. Since the focus is on evaluation as well as description, an evaluative annotation helps a researcher in deciding whether a particular source will be useful and if there is sufficient information available to complete the project.
Let us now discuss the process of writing an Annotated Bibliography
1. You need to start with extensive analysis, concise exposition and thorough library research.
2. The next step is to locate and record citations to periodicals, documents, books, and other sources which you think may contain useful ideas related to your topic.
3. Once you are through with this, briefly examine the actual items and finally choose the works that provide you with a variety of perspectives and points of view on the topic.
4. Next, you need to cite the article, book or document using an appropriate style like MLA, Chicago or APA.
5. In the end, you are required to write a concise annotation that summarises the central argument and the scope of your work. Here you may evaluate the authority and the background of the author in one or more sentences. Commenting on the intended audience and comparing this work to others that you have cited can give you an edge over others. Additionally, you may want to explain how this source illuminates your bibliography topic.
Critically Appraising the Source
Here you may want to discuss upon the author’s credentials like the institute he or she is associated with, educational background, experience in the industry and the past writings. You may also comment whether your instructor has mentioned this author or not and whether you have seen the author getting recognized in other sources or bibliographies. This is because respected authors are cited frequently by numerous scholars. You should also explain whether the source is current or out of date for the topic and whether it is the first edition of the publication or not. If a source has been revised multiple times, then it indicates that the knowledge levels have been changed, emissions have been corrected, and the text has been harmonized with intended readers’ needs. You may also want to comment upon whether the information mentioned in the source is fact, propaganda or opinion and if the information is valid and well researched or is it still questionable.
While including a source in the annotated bibliography of your work, you should strive to find answers for the following questions:
1. Is the information useful for your assignment and does it answer the research questions you have in mind?
2. Is the source different from other sources or repetitive and therefore should be eliminated or not?
3. Is the author objective in putting forward his perspective on the topic and is the data used by the author credible?
Once you are done critically appraising the document the final step is to choose the correct citation style. As a bonus tip, keep your annotation concise. Any piece of information that is apparent from the title should be omitted, and the sentences should be written using academic vocabulary.
The above guidelines will certainly help you in building a successfully adopted bibliography. If you are struggling at any stage, then you should not be afraid to seek consultation from your instructor or mentor.
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