Annotated Bibliography

You would be hard pressed to find a researcher who has not at some point in his or her career completed an annotated bibliography. This type of document is exactly what the name implies - it is a bibliography of the sources you have chosen to support your research paper that is accompanied by annotations, or brief summaries of the content and main arguments of each source. An annotated bibliography provides not only the citation information for the sources you consult and/or use for your research paper, but also a summary/analysis of the content of those sources that indicates how and why they are useful to your project.

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Why Compose an Annotated Bibliography?

  • Doing so forces you to more carefully evaluate the usefulness of your sources
  • A well-done annotated bibliography can serve as a personal reference tool during the writing process - you can more easily locate ideas and arguments that stood out to you, which can be handy when you are in the thick of writing a paper
  • In an interdisciplinary program such as MALS, annotating your sources allows you to analyze the interdisciplinarity of your research

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Structure and Content of an Annotated Bibliography

Be sure to provide a complete bibliography entry in the appropriate format (e.g., Turabian), as well as a summary of the source’s overall content, the major points it covers, and an explanation of how you might make use of it in your paper (or project/thesis). You may also wish to include a description of how and where you found the source for reference in finding additional sources and as a way of revealing your methodology. Be sure that you pay close attention to the minimum length of each annotation specified by your professor.

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Example of an Annotated Bibliography (Turabian)

MacGowan, Christopher. “William Carlos Williams.” In Columbia History of American Poetry. Edited by        Jay Parini, 395-418. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

      MacGowan’s is a chronologically organized account of William’s poetic career and of his relation to both modernism as an international movement and modernism as it affected the development of poetry in America. MacGowan argues that an essential feature of William’s commitment as a poet was to “the local-to the clear presentation of what was under his nose and in front of his eyes” (385). But he also takes care to remind us that Williams was in no way narrowly provincial, having studied in Europe as a young man (at Leipzig), having had a Spanish mother and an English father, having become friendly with poets Ezra Pound and H.D. while getting his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and having continued to meet important figures in the literary and art worlds by making frequent visits to New York and by traveling on more than one occasion to Europe. MacGowan depicts Williams as setting himself “against the international school of Eliot and Pound-Americans he felt wrote about rootlessness and searched an alien past because of their failure to write about and live within their own culture” (397). This source will be helpful in situating Williams as a cosmopolite among his contemporaries, in contrast to conventional opinion. I located this source through the MLA Bibliography on the ETSU Sherrod Library Web Site.

Next entry author. Title. Publication info.


Etc., Etc.

©2009 Jill LeRoy-Frazier 

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