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Fowler Analytical Essay Guide: Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

Annotated Bibilography

An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each source, which is called an annotation. Depending on your assignment, your annotations may include one or more of the following:

Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source.

What are the main arguments?
What is the point of this book or article?
What topics are covered?

Assess: After you summarize a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it.

Is it a useful source?
How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?
Is the information reliable?
Is it this source biased or objective?
What is the goal of this source?

Reflect: Next, determine how the source fits into your research.

  • Was this source helpful to you?
  • How does it help you shape your argument?
  • How can you use this source in your research project?
  • Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Writing an Evaluative Annotation

  1. Cite the source using MLA style.

  2. Describe the main ideas, arguments, themes, theses, or methodology, and identify the intended audience.

  3. Explain the author’s expertise, point of view, and any bias he/she may have.

  4. Compare to other sources on the same topic that you have also cited to show similarities and differences.

  5. Explain why each source is useful for your research topic and how it relates to your topic.

  6. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each source.

  7. Identify the observations or conclusions of the author. 

 Remember: Annotations are original descriptions that you create after reading the document. When researching, you may find journal articles that provide a short summary at the beginning of the text. This article abstract is similar to a summary annotation. You may consult the abstract when creating your evaluative annotation, but never simply copy it as that would be considered plagiarism. 

Sample Evaulative Annotation

London, Herbert. “Five Myths of the Television Age.” Television Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, Mar. 1982, pp. 81-69.

Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and author of several books and articles, explains how television contradicts five commonly believed ideas. He uses specific examples of events seen on television, such as the assassination of John Kennedy, to illustrate his points. His examples have been selected to contradict such truisms as: “seeing is believing”; “a picture is worth a thousand words”; and “satisfaction is its own reward.” London uses logical arguments to support his ideas which are his personal opinion. He does not refer to any previous works on the topic. London’s style and vocabulary would make the article of interest to any reader. The article clearly illustrates London’s points, but does not explore their implications leaving the reader with many unanswered questions.


Adapted from:

"How to Write Annotated Bibliographies." Memorial University Libraries, Accessed 29 June 2016.

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