Important Components of an Annotated Bibliography

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Using an annotated bibliography is a common requirement that some educational institutions set with certain types of academic assignments. As you might have never faced such a task in high school, composing this section for a research paper when in college or university can be a real challenge. The good news is that the task is not so difficult to complete when you are familiar with some basic guidelines.
The major idea behind an annotated bibliography is that a student is expected to provide each item on the source list with a brief description in the form of a personal evaluation. Such an accompanying text should be quite concise to avoid turning the list into another descriptive section. An author only should provide their reasons to show why exactly this specific website or article was chosen and what it actually is. Each annotation is to be kept within 100 to 200 words maximum. Apply an academic writing style. Remember that the items are to be provided in an alphabetical order.

What Should Be Included

Here are some details which are typically included in each source’s description when it comes to an annotated bibliography:

  • Citation details in accordance with a formatting style used (e. g. APA, MLA, Harvard etc.). Check a formatting guide to get familiar with specific requirements. Failure to meet them will definitely be considered as a severe mistake.
  • A brief presentation of the research conducted in the source. Also, you have to make clear why the report or article you make reference to is relevant to your own research. Mention the hypothesis and findings of the referred work.
  • Your experience with the quoted paper. Express your impression of the work in multiple words. The idea is that a student has to take their own attitude towards the subject under discussion. Feel free to provide your evaluation of the job done. You can also mention how easy to track and understand the author’s train of thought is. That said, include only sources that you have really read, which is actually one of the major reasons behind such a writing task as an annotated bibliography.
  • Relevance of the work’s findings. It is important to show whether the work you cite is actually has to do with your own research. Avoid putting irrelevant sources on the list; this will be considered as spam and can help your paper in no way.

Typical Mistakes You Should Avoid

Here are some common mistakes students often make trying to compose an annotated bibliography for their research paper:

  • Confusing bibliography with a descriptive section like an abstract. Remember that the list is to be just a presentation of sources used so no generalization or conclusions should be made here.
  • An annotated bibliography should not be as detailed as a literature review. Keep it concise.
  • Including sources which the student actually did not read. This won’t help. Chances are an experienced teacher will unmask you easily.
  • Failure to follow a required formatting style. This mistake can spoil your work even if the content is brilliant. So check the requirements to be met prior to getting to writing.

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