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RHE 309S: Success and Failure / Sahinler

Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography and how do I make one?

An annotated bibliography helps you gather sources relevant to your research. 

It is composed of list of citations to books, articles and non-print resources like websites, podcasts, etc. Each citation is followed by a summary and evaluation, assessing the currency, accuracy, relevancy and quality of the source.

Usually, an annotated bibliography includes some of the following:

  • A brief summary (including paraphrasing) of ideas or arguments in a source.
  • A brief assessment or evaluation of the source. Is the source relevant or useful to your research? How does it fit in (complement or stand in opposition) with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this author biased or objective? 
  • A brief reflection. How will you use this source in your argument? How did it change how you think about your topic? What is new and unique about the author's claims?

Follow your professors guidelines to decide what and how much information to include in your annotated bibliography.

  • Be organized. As you search the databases and the Web, save pdfs and citations. Try using NoodleTools to collect citations so that you can export them into a bibliography later.
  • As you collect sources, think about how the sources can support your claims and provide evidence for your arguments. Organize your thoughts in an outline, pulling out important quotations and ideas from the sources. NoodleTools allows you to make an outline and to create notecards to record quotations and paraphrasing from sources.
    • Note: when you see folks get caught for plagiarism in the news, they often blame it on poor organization or a bad memory (I had forgotten where I heard that!). Keep organized to avoid unintentional plagiarism. 
  • Need more help? Purdue OWL is a great resource for writing an annotated bibliography - and it has some samples.
  • Problem:

    You wrote your annotated bibliography, but now you have to write the paper and you're overwhelmed with all you found or some of it now seems useless.

    This is a very common nightmare scenario! Sometimes when you are searching for your annotated bibliography you grab things from all over the place - you aren't sure what you are arguing about yet.

    Solution: These are advanced research skills! Listen up: 1) narrow down, through topic exploration, to an aspect of the broader topic early on (as in, charter schools ----> New Orleans charter schools and test scores). 2) Keep track of where you searched and what you found - you may need more sources later on - where were you happiest searching? 3) Use bibliographies in articles and books you like. By engaging in and following the conversation around a topic, you will become familiar with the narrower controversies and can stay on track more easily.

Ask your librarian

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Elise Nacca
Perry-CastaƱeda (Main) Library (PCL)

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