Jessup Playbooks Logo

How do I write an academic research paper?

A step-by-step playbook to the research and writing process. Modified with permission from Johnson & Wales University, Denver.

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a descriptive summary and/or evaluation.

Sometimes the annotation will reflect the applicability of the source to the needs of the researcher. 

The purpose of this type of bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotation may include some or all of these parts: 

  • a citation to the source clipboard
  • qualifications of the author(s)
  • purpose or scope of the work
  • topics covered
  • summary of findings or conclusions
  • audience or reading level
  • bias or standpoint of author(s)
  • relationship to works in the field
  • format/special features
  • relevance to your own research


MLA Example

Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968. Print.

This book is part of a series called Twentieth Century American Writers. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discusses Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There is an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.

Original example from Writing Center at UNC- Chapel Hill.

APA Example

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Original example from Cornell University Library.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Below are the most common types of annotated bibliographies:

  • Indicative:  Provides general information about the scope of the work and topics covered.
  • Informative: Provides a summary of the work.
  • Evaluative / Critical: Critcally evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the source and/or its author. Explains how the source may be useful to a particular field of study or personal research.
  • Combination: Uses a combination of some or all of the types mentioned above.

Recommended Web sites