A great lot of academic papers require a list of sources to be included. It can be either a simple listing, or a more informative performance of the materials used. This last option is usually called an annotated bibliography.
Annotated bibliography writing can be described as a list of sources with writer’s comments on them. Comments can vary in shape and content, and it depends upon the method one chooses to use – to analyze or to evaluate.
- Annotated Bibliography: Why and How to?
- Types of Annotated Bibliographies
- Annotated Bibliography Writing: Hints
Uses and importance of Annotated Bibliography
Before refusing from writing an annotated bibliography, ask yourself why it actually became a part of academic writing. Being a student, you can think, as many do, that some academic assignments are just senseless and exist only to mess up your free time and add problems. But writing an annotated bibliography can indeed become a helpful habit. First of all, when writing an annotated bibliography, you can find out more about the topic of your research. Every writing starts from investigating the topic. Usually, what you do is read and take notes on what can be useful. But once the goal is to summarize a book and find out the main idea, reading becomes more focused and, as a result, you get a deeper understanding of what you need, want to write, and the way you are going to do it.
Another reason for writing annotated bibliographies is the preparation of a feedback on the materials used. This feedback will be of particular importance for those who are eager to follow and deepen their researches. These people will definitely like to know what materials are more and less helpful. The interest towards your research depends a lot on you and the way you present it. But if exists, annotated bibliography writing will be a good and helpful way to continue investigations.
You will also see that writing an annotated bibliography helps with one of the most painful problems – thesis statement writing. After analyzing and summarizing a big amount of theoretical sources, you will get a clear picture of the situation. This means that an annotation is your reply to someone’s opinion on the topic. After responding several times, you will be able to come up with a good debatable thesis statement, because you will know your supporters and opponents as well as their positions, points of view, and arguments.
Categories of Annotated Bibliographies
If to concentrate on the types of annotated bibliography writing, there are many of them. Everything depends on the method you prefer. Annotated bibliographies can summarize. The answer lies in the definition itself. When summarizing, you do not go diving deeply into the source. Your task is to inform briefly on the main points of the book, its topics, and writer’s position. In other words, tell the readers the “about” of the book. A common fallacy, however, is falling into too many details. Do not describe the hypotheses, proofs, and statements of the book.
You can also want to evaluate the source. Your evaluation can have a positive or a negative impact, depending on the opinion you get after reading the source. A good idea is to compare it to other sources you used and to give your point of view on whether the information is reliable and helpful or not. Another way to evaluate is by giving your personal feedback on how this particular source affected your research, thesis, or any particular part of writing. Evaluation can be mixed with summary; everything depends on the size of your annotation and the desire to describe a particular source.
If you are struggling with writing quality annotated bibliographies, there are certain techniques that can make your life easier. First and most obvious one is identifying the main idea of the source you are analyzing, finding its thesis statement. There is a little helpful hint here: if a source is long, you do not actually have to go through it all to find the research question. Read the introduction and conclusion, and everything will be perfectly clear. Also, go over the chapters for more details. Pay attention to the introductory sentences and first paragraphs. Writers are the same everywhere, and they use similar writing techniques. If you write main ideas in the beginning, why should they follow a different pattern?
As to the writing style, this is a tricky point. Different writing styles (APA, MLA, Turabian, Harvard) have different order of organizing the bibliographical entries. Some start with writers’ last names, others – with first names, some urge to place a comma in one place, others – in a totally different one. To prevent yourself from getting into troubles, the first thing you should do is find out, which writing style your school or university supports.
Annotated bibliographies are usually arranged in alphabetical order. As to the annotation itself, it can either follow the bibliographic information immediately, or be placed a couple lines below. Once again, it depends on the writing style. As to the size of annotated bibliography writing, you are the one to determine it. The best formula is staying brief and focused, at the same time giving the most valuable and helpful information.