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3.1: Annotated Bibliography

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    This chapter is brought to you by Sybil Priebe and heavily edited bits from this Wikibook24 .

    The annotated bibliography is the first step to writing a successful research paper. It is beneficial for students as well as instructors. By completing an annotated bibliography, students will begin their research long before the actual research paper is due, so they are not scrambling at the last minute to find sources.


    An annotation is a brief summary of a book, article, chart, visual, video or other publication. The purpose of an annotation is to describe the work in such a way that the reader can decide whether or not to read the work itself. An annotated bibliography helps the reader understand the particular usefulness of each item. The ideal annotated bibliography shows the relationships among individual items and may compare their strengths or shortcomings.

    Step-By-Step Approach to Annotating:

    The following approach to annotating will help you to use your reading time to best advantage.

    • Familiarize yourself with the contents of the book or article. Examining the table of contents, the foreword, and the introduction can be helpful.
    • Read as much of the book or article (or watch the video/listen to the podcast) as is necessary to understand its content.
    • Outline or make notes of the information you think should be incorporated in the annotation.
    • Write a paragraph that covers the spirit of the book or article without undue emphasis on any one or more particular points.
    • Individualize annotations in a bibliography; avoid using the same words and repetitive phrasing.
    • Write in complete sentences.
    • The most effective annotation is tightly written with succinct and descriptive wording. Annotations are short notes and are normally no more than 150 words. Brevity and clarity are the goals.
    • Grab the attention of the reader at the beginning of the annotation.


    Annotated Bibliography25

    Howard, Ted, and Jeremy Rifkin. Who Should Play God? New York: Dell 1977. This book "lifts the cloak of secrecy from genetic experiments" and explores, among other things, "who is performing the research and who profits from it" (12). It's clearly anti-genetic engineering; its chapter titles give a good idea of the direction and flavor of the book, for example, "Eugenics," "Eliminating 'Bad' Genes," "BioFutures," "Scientists and Corporation." This book looks as if it is an appropriate source for the social arguments from the political left wing.

    Taylor, Monica and Mal Leicester. Ethics, Ethnicity and Education. Bristol, PA: Taylor and Francis, 1992. This book is an important and inherently controversial collection of papers that discusses the major moral issues in multicultural school education. Topics discussed include the ethical aspects of the separate schools debate, strategies for establishing a democratic school and preparing teachers to be more moral educators, and consideration of the values implicitly antiracist/ multicultural education.

    Pederson, Jane Marie. Between Memory and Reality: Family and Community in Rural Wisconsin, 1870-1970. Madison, WI: University of WI Press, 1992. Pederson examines the development of two rural Wisconsin communities during the postfrontier years. She demonstrates the effects of the cultures brought to these communities by immigrants and migrants on the distinctive ways these towns responded to change in the twentieth century.

    Assignments or Questions to Consider

    Create an annotated bibliography capturing the summaries of three sources related to your field of study. (Click here for an example.) At a minimum, including the following criteria: three alphabetical sources, three quality summaries, and three detailed citations.

    24 "Rhetoric and Composition/Teacher's Handbook/Teaching Annotated Bibliography." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 10 Aug 2016, 20:05 UTC. 10 Sep 2019, 20:24 .

    25 The print handout was revised and then redesigned for the Web by Thomas Tate for The Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer. URL: © 2000 The Write Place.

    This page titled 3.1: Annotated Bibliography is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe, Ronda Marman, & Dana Anderson (North Dakota University System) .

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