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ETH 101: Ethics and Society (Bennett): How to Annotate

Annotated bibliography

From OWL Purdue: 

bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do 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? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
  • Assess: After summarizing 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 this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it 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?

Questions to ask yourself

  • WHAT
         Can you identify the type of information source you have found?
         Is it a book?
         An article?
         A web site?
         Something else? (social media posting?)
         What topics are covered?


  • WHY
          What is the purpose of the information source?
          Who is the intended audience?
          Is it meant to inform?
          To persuade?
          To teach?
          To report the findings of some original research?
          To entertain?


  • HOW
         How does it compare to other items you have found?

     What are the research methods, if any, employed in the source?
     Does the author cite other research? Is there a bibliography? Footnotes?
     Have other scholars cited the information source?
     Does the work succeed?

     How is it useful to me or others?


  • WHO
        Who is the author?
        What are the author’s credentials?

    What are the author’s affiliations?
    What are the author’s goals & objectives?


  • WHEN

      When the information was created or last updated?

      Is the date important for the timeliness of the content?

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