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Citation & Documentation

Annotated Bibliography

An instructor may ask for an annotated bibliography before a large research project. The idea behind this is to get familiar with a research topic for a sources support, objectivity, and reliability - as well as develop a structure for using these sources within academic research. When choosing sources to include for a research project, students can use their annotated bibliography to synthesize the sources and create an argument.

Annotations do not rehash minor details, cite evidence, quote the author, or recount steps in an argument (MLA 9). Annotations are more than just a couple of sentences, but are generally no longer than a paragraph. Always take specific instruction into account when creating them. 

Writing an annotated bibliography is twofold.

One: Writing a bibliography

Include the correct citation for each source in the research ("works cited" for MLA, "references" for APA). Formatting these citations is a challenge for many students, but there are lots of resources (including folks at the Writing Center) that can help.

Two: Annotation in summary and evaluation of the source

The annotations are generally written in paragraph form under each source citation, but can sometimes include bullets or direct quotes (properly cited) to address specific source details. Annotations oftentimes summarize the source to address its main ideas and purpose, assess the sources use to the research at hand (is it objective? Is it trustworthy? Etc.) and touch on how it will be included within the topic and project (support, counter-argument, accuracy, credibility, etc.). Always consider any specific instruction when it comes to annotations; the purpose may vary depending on audience.

Considerations for Annotated Bibliography Writing
Instructor specifications: every research project needs to meet a criteria for the course and keep that purpose in mind when writing and researching 
Format: Be sure to format your bibliography in the same citation format of your paper 
Length: Annotations will vary based on the project but generally are an entire paragraph long at minimum


*Expansion coming soon*

Sample APA Annotated Bibliography

Leighley, J. & Nagler, J. (2016, October 17). Same-day registration and increased absentee voting would help. The 

New York Times.

Leighley & Nagler's (2016) article “Same-Day Registration and Increased Absentee Voting Would Help” is a bad source because opinions are asserted as a facts along with any useful data. In addition, no dissenting opinions are mentioned. It is important to understand the amount of voters who don’t turn out on Election Day due to unavailability and/or indifferent opinions on either candidate. The authors explain some of the hurdles to registering and voting in American elections. The authors argue that same-day registration and voting through the mail would increase voter turnout. While addressing the presidential candidates, Leighley and Nagler discuss the lack of meaningful differences between the candidates’ points of view, and suggest that if voters understood the distinction between the candidates’ ideals that would also increase turn out. 

Sample MLA Annotated Bibliography

Krugman, Paul. "The Tainted Election." New York Times, vol. 166, no. 57444, 12 Dec. 2016, pp. A21Education

Source Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.

New York Times writer and self-proclaimed liberal Paul Krugman discusses the outcome and implications of the 2016 election in the article “The Tainted Election.” He accounts for possible Russian intervention and hacking, media coverage in the week prior to the vote, and the role of the electoral college. The author’s tone is one of anger and frustration with the election; he highlights a lot of discrepancies within the election process. In writing in this tone (one of clear bias), the outrage at times obstructs the reader from an otherwise informative article that raises good questions about the fairness of the U.S. democratic system. The article does provide, however, a very clear picture of the electoral college’s role on the individual citizen that does not feel represented by it. Krugman’s well-spoken frustration supports the idea that the electoral college may not be a true democratic representation.