Does ‘Annotated bibliography’ seem like a nightmare to you? Then you are not alone, writing an annotated index is daunting for the majority of students. Most of us do not know what fundamental difference lies between a simple bibliography and an annotated one.
For beginners, let us get a clear concept of bibliography before we get into an annotated bibliography. Make sure you understand the precise definition of index. A bibliography is nothing but a list; a list of citation, which includes everything from title, author and publication information from sources, you have taken reference from while writing your paper. Bibliography supports your argument and increases the credibility of your paper. It helps readers to find out from where you have obtained information to bring forth those arguments. Bibliography helps you to establish originality of your findings. With the help of this thoroughly written index, future researchers can locate sources of information on similar or related topics. Many times, Bibliography is referred to as Reference and Work Cited Pages. Depending on the style guide, your citation formats will vary. You should consult your professors before deciding which style to follow, as your university style guide may have some particular guidelines related to formatting bibliography.
How an annotated bibliography goes one-step further?
An annotated bibliography goes an extra mile and takes the form of a short paragraph of description/ evaluation of each of your sources that you have used in your paper. Now why annotated bibliography is more effective than the simple one? An annotated bibliography helps you to remember specific information from your source and often acts as a catalyst to pave ways for new research. It becomes easier for you to navigate through scopes of a research topic by following bibliographies of different research papers. With an annotated bibliography you will always be able to see what has been written on any particular topic; you will get more information on a research paper than a simple bibliography provides. Depending on that information, you can do further research.
In an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and short evaluative paragraph of 150 words and annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the readers about the accuracy, relevancy and quality of the sources, which have been cited. It does the same job as a simple bibliography, but it does it in a better way. With an annotated bibliography, you can easily prove that the paper you have written is well researched, well referenced and authentic.
Main components of an annotated bibliography
Specific components you must use while writing an annotated bibliography. Followings are fields must be used all at once while writing an annotated bibliography. These elements may vary depending on the type of annotated bibliography and special guidelines specified in your instruction manual.
- Full bibliography citation:
An annotated bibliography should always contain complete bibliographical informations, which are author, title, publisher and date.
- Author Background:
In this section, you need to write the name, qualification, authority, experience of the author.
- Purpose of the work:
You should provide enough information about authentic reasoning about why the author has written this paper.
- The scope of further research:
In this section, you need to state how in-depth the topic has been explained and what other sub-topics have been covered.
- Main Argument:
In the primary argument phase, you need to write primary informative points on paper.
For whom you have written this paper, you need precisely mention the intended reader of your paper. Is it written for public or only for subject specialists? You need to specify that information explicitly.
You need to explain what methodology you have employed to write the paper.
What perspective and approach did influence you while writing the paper and explaining findings? What your point of view is the most critical aspect of writing a research paper.
In this section, you need to cite other sources.
- Reliability of the source:
Here you need to denote why sources that you have consulted is reliable?
Write your conclusion about the work and explain how work can easily justify the conclusion.
If you have added anything extra like visual aids; charts, maps, etc. should thoroughly be mentioned here.
- Strength and weaknesses:
Explain here, what are some strength and weaknesses of the work?
- Personal conclusion:
In the personal conclusion portion, you need to explain your specific point of view or reaction to the sources based on prior knowledge of subject matter, available work or knowledge pools done by others.
Why does one need to write an annotated bibliography?
Many times, you are going to get special instruction about writing an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography being a detailed bibliography includes three segments for each source – The citation; A summary about the source and Authors’ thoughts and insights from the source.
The primary idea behind the annotation process is to prove that your work is original, relevant and accurate. Before including an annotated bibliography, you must check with your professor to know whether an annotated bibliography is needed in your paper. If required, then is there any specific guideline related to how to write an annotated bibliography.
- The citation
While writing citations, you can take up any particular format, like MLA, APA or another style, which your teacher prefers. Depending on different formats, your citation will be presented differently.
- The summary
In the summary portion, you need to write few sentences to summarise sources, what was the main point of it.
- Your personal thoughts and insights
You need to explain how important those sources were, how those sources help you to frame specific arguments and how did a particular source help you to answer your research questions. You also need to explain how one source was different from other sources used. Another important aspect that you need to talk about in this phase is you need to explain how a specific source changed your thinking on the topic. Lastly, you need to explain how a particular source has affected you.
- An annotated bibliography helps you to learn more about your topic
As we have already mentioned the most sticking purpose of writing, an annotated bibliography is to remember the overall information that is contained in each source. If you are working on papers with few sources then it is not that bad always, however for long projects and papers, you may need to deal with hundreds of sources, and in that case, an annotated bibliography becomes a life and grade saver.
Writing an annotated bibliography is an outstanding preparation for a research project. Collecting sources is always helpful, but when you need to write annotations for each of those sources, you need to read resources more carefully. When it comes to annotation, you begin to read more critically instead of just gathering information. If you see it more professionally, then an annotated bibliography allows you to see what has been done in the literature and where you research can fit in.
- This style of writing bibliography will help you to write an impressive thesis
While writing a research paper, you always need to formulate a thesis statement. Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of a research paper is to support and provide shreds of evidence to prove a thesis statement correct. Framing the thesis statement is essential as it holds the real power of making a paper thoroughly researched one. An ideal thesis statement should be debatable, interesting and most up-to-date one. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you with framing an imposing thesis statement by gaining a proper perspective on what is being said about your topic. On reading a variety of sources on a topic, it will be easier for you to identify what issues are prominent, about what aspect people are arguing about, this will help you to write an impressive and relevant thesis statement. As without your point of view, it will be hard for you to write a remarkable thesis statement.
- An annotated bibliography written by you is most likely to help other researchers
Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. The importance of this sort of bibliography is, it provides a comprehensive overview of everything important, that has been discussed on a topic. Even if your annotated bibliography got published, but as a researcher, you must look for those published ones that have been released on your topic, this will help you with giving you some idea about how to write an annotated bibliography.
What are the skills you need to write an impressive annotated bibliography?
Creating an annotated bibliography requires extensive intellectual skills, concise exposition, succinct analysis and informed library research. The process of writing an annotated bibliography is slightly different from writing a simple index. As it requires you to explore every source in depth, you really need to have expert skill when it comes to researching. The process starts with you locating and recording citations to books, periodicals and documents, which may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. You need to examine and review exact terms briefly, and then you need to sort out works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
Although annotated bibliography demands detail information about all sources, you must try not to stretch the bibliography portion unnecessarily. You should write a concise annotation that thoroughly summarises the central theme and scope of a book and article. In the bibliography portion, you must include few sentences that evaluate the background and authority of the author; you also need to talk about who is intended audience, you must even compare and contrast these other works that you have cited
Why do you need to choose MLA Format?
You may already have worked in MLA format. In that case, you are likely to know how and MLA format looks like. Paper, which is intended to be written in MLA format, needs to be conformed to the MLS style formatting requirements. This MLS style format is generally used when writing papers in humanities and liberal arts. Not only for research papers, are many journals magazines required to write in MLA style. The general formatting style is outlined here,
- You need to use a page size of 8.5×11 inches.
- While writing the paper, you must leave a 1-inch margin on all sides.
- Double spacing and a clear, readable font need to be used.
- While writing the first line, you must indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch from the left margin.
- Put a space after the period and any other punctuation
- While writing headers include consecutive numbering for each page, write the page number in the documents’ right-hand corner. The page number must be written as one-half of an inch from the top margin.
- To use the endnotes, you must give start writing with a title, “notes”. The notes page must be a separate one, which should be included right after the body of the paper and before the bibliography
- The MLA formatted bibliography page comes at the end portion of your paper, and it must have a separate page. In this page, you are required to write all sources, which you have cited throughout the document.
Here is what you need to follow while writing an MLA formatted annotated bibliography
- Capitalise all crucial words in titles of books and journal articles; this feature makes MLA different from other citation styles.
- Italicize titles of books and journals, do not underline the titles as used to be done while following previous and outdated MLA guidelines.
- Quotation marks for titles of articles and websites.
- Indentation is must for the second and each subsequent line of each entry.
- All entries should be written in alphabetical order
- Always write the type of your sources, like write “print” for printed sources and “web” for online sources.
Why is MLA the most preferred style of writing an annotated bibliography?
MLA format of citation can be overwhelming? If you have already worked on one, then you already know the feeling how frightening a research paper can be if you need to write the bibliography by following MLA style. If you are worried about how to write an MLA annotated bibliography, then do not worry, you are not alone. Many students are intimidated just by the idea of writing an MLA style research paper.
There is no doubt about MLA style being the most complicated, but after knowing all facts related to MLA format now, you can’t deny the effectiveness of writing your citation in this format. To know in details about MLA format you can go through two official MLA citation style publications written by Joseph Gibaldi, these two publications are:
The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, second edition (ISBN 0-87352-699-6) and The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, sixth edition (ISBN 0-87352-986-3) the second one is for high school students. Now it is evident that you will feel intimidated by these cumbersome volumes. Well, you do not need to be afraid of MLA Citation style as there is hope; this format is not really as scary as it seems and you simply need to learn the basic of MLA format to write an annotated bibliography correctly.
Therefore, the gap between practically presenting your research paper and the theory that you conceptualise while attending lectures can be bridged with the help of MLA annotated bibliography, as it implements a thorough evaluation and explanation of every source, which in turn helps you to learn more about the practical implementation of theoretical concepts.
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