How to Create an Annotated Bibliography
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How to Create a Good Annotated Bibliography

Among various types of academic writing, an annotated bibliography is one demanding precision and diligence. It provides factual information about the previous research conducted on the topic of your paper. In the bibliography, the list of the sources used in the research is organized alphabetically. Apart from the bibliographic data it presents, this part of the research paper makes an accurate summary of a separate source evaluating its relevance and topicality. The bibliography can be an independently written assignment or constitute a section of a lengthy project.

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If you need to learn how to write an annotated bibliography, you should start by selecting the relevant sources. It is essential that you make sure your bibliography contains useful and qualitative sources. For this, you need to determine the scope of the research and make careful decisions about which sources should be included and excluded. Your top priority here is to identify the limits and boundaries of your research. In such a way, you will be able to comprise a comprehensive list of sources that facilitates the process of writing and contributes to your research. Therefore, you might consider the following questions before working on your annotated bibliography:

  • What is the aim of my investigation?
  • What problems am I trying to solve?

In case you are conducting a research project, it is appropriate to guide yourself with a research question. However, if you are compiling an annotated bibliography as an independent project on a quite broad subject like the evolution of the Constitution or Brazilian education, you should design your topic in a form of a question or a set of questions, it will help you define your purpose and find major focus. For example, your topic could be narrowed down to such specific issues:

  • How did the evolution of the Brazilian Constitution affect the education sector?
  • How did the educational establishments develop under the influence of the Constitution?
  • What are the positive and negative results of the involvement of Law in the field of education?
  • What are the prospects for future cooperation between the two fields?

To ensure you are on the right course and know how to make an annotated bibliography, the following questions must also be addressed:

  • What kind of sources do I need? (You have to find out which materials will be useful for your research. It can be journal articles or articles in the popular press, academic books, primary historical sources, policy statements, or government reports.)
  • Are there studies relevant to my research? (It is crucial that you pay attention to the footnotes in the articles you choose for your paper. You need to learn what sources the authors have used and why. Moreover, you should check out studies that were mentioned by more than one of your sources. They may lead you to some substantial work in the related area.)

An annotated bibliography definition states that there should be a brief restatement of the central argument of a source. It means that you need to summarize the basic idea of that particular source. For this, you should determine and explain its thesis, hypothesis or research question, most efficient methods of analysis and investigation, and main results and conclusions. Remember that defining the argument of a certain source is not the same as describing its contents.

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