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Annotated Bibliography

In an annotated bibliography a student critically summarises key source materialsAnnotations (usually approximately 100-150 words) give insight into the relevance, accuracy and quality of sources cited and often indicate students level of understanding of a sourceStudents might be given an annotated bibliography to support them with an assessment or, more likely, be asked to generate an annotated bibliography as part of an assessmentAnnotated bibliographies can also be reused later for revision purposes. 

Typically used to…. 

  • develop your understanding of current research in a particular field 
  • assess your capacity to identify and locate key sources in a field of research 
  • evaluate your ability to summarise key concepts coherently and concisely (e.g. via tighter word limits). 
  • evaluate your engagement with scholars/experts in your discipline. 
  • assess your ability to critique and evaluate arguments, theories or claims made in existing research and to identify existing gaps or weaknesses in the literature 
  • demonstrate and develop information literacy which is a key digital capability  


Key considerations when preparing an annotated bibliography for an assessment

  • Is the annotated bibliography being used for formative or summative assessment purposes (or both!) 
  • If your bibliography contributes to your final grade (i.e. is being used for summative assessment), how much is it worth? 
  • What criteria is being used to assess your bibliography? Has a rubric been provided? 
  • How many sources are you expected to explore before selecting those that you’re going to include in your submission? How many readings do you need to include in the bibliography? 
  • Are there certain articles, journals, or theoretical perspectives that should feature on your bibliography? What are the seminal resources in the area? 
  • Can you express the key ideas from each source in a few sentences? How relevant are the sources you’re annotating to the assessment theme?  
  • How accurate is your referencing? Have you crosschecked the referencing against the recommended style guide?  
  • Take notes on each source as you read it—a good rule of thumb is if you read something, write something! Your notes will help you select the resources that you are going to include in your final bibliography and will be an important resource when writing your final annotations.   


Trinity-supported tools:  

The VLE Assignment Tool and Turnitin are accessible through Blackboard.
Google Docs and MS Word are accessible via myzone
Endnote and Stella available through the library

Examples of annotated bibliographies 

Annotated biblography brief and rubric (681 KB)

Sample annotated bibliography (PDF 109KB)


How to prepare an annotated bibliography  

This student resource from Cornell University Library provides useful guidelines on how to prepare an annotated bibliography

What's an annotated bibliography?  

This YouTube video from Brook University Library provides a summary of the main components of an annotated bibliography.

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