Written analyses is hard, but imporatant

A standard bibliography details only the basic information of the written sources used in compiling academic writing. The annotated bibliography includes further information, analysis and critical comment for each item cited. This fuller bibliography is not a literature review but may constitute a useful early approach to constructing one.

What Is a Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list in alphabetical order of author’s name appended after an essay. A bibliographic entry usually refers to a cited work – something you are quoting from – but some tutors may insist that your bibliography lists all texts consulted. The primary function of bibliographic lists is to assist the reader in finding the sources that you used, so you will be judged on accuracy.
Your institution will assert one particular style, perhaps Harvard, Chicago or MLA, which dictates the order and appearance of the details in the entry. Any bibliographic citation must include name of author(s), date of publication, title, and publisher’s name and location where published (for books) while for journal articles include author(s), article title, journal title, volume, issue and page numbers.

Annotated Bibliography as a Research Method

The annotated bibliography is frequently organised around and related directly to a particular course of study or the essay question or assignment response that you are developing. It may constitute an assignment in itself, especially if it is a precursor to a complex piece of thinking or practice as a primary course assessment. It is a useful skill which may be transferable to the workplace.

Typically at the start of an undergraduate course you may be offered a choice of one of ten or more essay topics and given lists of individual reading references relevant to each lecture or tutorial. Read the tutorial recommendation before each session and prepare notes on similar lines to those required for annotated bibliography. Early in the course, select two or three of the questions and conduct preliminary enquiries before deciding which question to pursue.

  1. Locate five sources of academic reading for each question – these should not be limited to the set reading you are already doing
  2. Find some sources by reading course advisory materials to discover recommended journal titles or key authors in the field
  3. Visit the library and browse – serendipity often pays
  4. Develop a list of keywords in relation to each question; further search using those key words

Written analyses is hard, but imporatant
Begin your search for relevant reading materials from the listed essential and recommended reading detailed in your course materials. Then you need to enrich your knowledge by individual choice of examples resulting from the search strategies suggested above. Characterise the content in a few sentences (50-150 words), do not copy out long passages from texts.

  • Explain the main rationale and focus of the cited work
  • Briefly discuss the work’s format and content – is it a book, journal article, chapter from an edited collection, industry magazine, online resource, newspaper article, etc?
  • Indicate special features (eg. glossary, appendixes, detailed bibliography that led to further useful sources)
  • How do you predict this source may be relevant to your topic?
  • Give your own brief impression of the work
  • Write out the full bibliographic citation, then underneath write your annotations.


Satterwhite, Emily (2006) Escape from our too hurried world: Internet Customer Reviews and Metropolitan Readers’ Consumption of Rural America, Inter-Active Audiences edition of Diegesis: Journal of the Association for Research into Popular Fictions, Vol. 9, pp. 4-8

A short but detailed article that discusses how regionalism, especially Appalachianization, became mainstream in certain American popular novels at the turn of the new millennium. Researches readerships expressing their pleasure in the authenticity of these stories conducted through reader reviews posted on Amazon.com. Suggests contradiction between the theme of the fictions and the context of globalization within which the fans communicate. This edition of Diegesis is focused on similar contradictions in the shift in audience behaviour in relation to information technologies.

Last Minute Checklist – Have You:

  1. Illustrated the scope of your research?
  2. Demonstrated to the tutor that essential sources were consulted?
  3. Provided examples of the type of resources available on a given topic?
  4. Established that you can exercise critical judgement in relation to appropriate texts?

The annotated bibliography does not just list references or a synopsis of main points, it characterises and represents content and examines and makes judgments of those points. It is not an executive summary which would be longer and more detailed. It is useful for almost any research task or study assignment as it organises your initial thoughts on academic reading into notes and comments you can fall back on later. Here’s a published example for American Studies.