Writing the Annotated Bibliography
A bibliography is the recording of sources (this can be primary or secondary sources such as articles, websites, books, documents, etc) used in the writing of a document such as a paper, manuscript or proceeding. Annotation is the process of recording the thoughts, ideas or the concepts that the author was trying to convey. Another important aspect of the annotation is that it allows you to provide an interpretation of the quality and importance of the document that can steer whether you find the work helpful or not helpful when you are preparing to write your document. As with any document, it is important to determine what style you may be using. The most common styles are APA, MLA and Chicago. These ‘styles’ advise you what format the references should be in for the ‘References Cited’ section. The type of reference and the style will dictate how that reference should be constructed for the References Cited section. The annotation is the part of the reference that may be new to you. The annotation should not be confused with the ‘Abstract’ of an article that only summarizes the content of the paper. The annotation should go on to describe key concepts of the article that you find helpful or important such as the authors perceptions, ideas, or thoughts. In addition, you may want to comment on the quality of the study, the relevance of the work, and any useful ideas or concepts that are exceptionally relevant or helpful. Let’s take a look. In this example (https://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography), we have an annotation from an article by Waite et al, 1986.
Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541- 554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self- sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living. The annotation discusses what the key aspects of the study were, what was found, and contrasting results from another study that contradicts what this group found. Below is the abstract of this same article (Waite et al, 1986): Young adults in recent cohorts have been leaving the parental home earlier and marrying later now than they did several decades ago, resulting in an increased period of independent living. This Note, originally published in American Sociological Review, v. 51, no. 4, August 1986, explores the consequences of time spent in nonfamily living, using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Men and Young Women. The authors expect that experience in living away from home prior to marriage will cause young adults to change their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, and move them away from a traditional family orientation. They find strong support for this hypothesis for young women; those who lived independently became more likely to plan for employment, lowered their expected family size, became more accepting of employment of mothers, and more nontraditional on sex roles in the family than those who lived with their parents. Non-family living had much weaker effects on young men in the few tests that could be performed for them. The Note also addresses the conditions under which living away increases individualism, and discusses the implications of these findings. Although both an annotation and abstract summarize the work, an abstract summarizes the work alone, whereas an annotation puts the work into perspective of the whole body
of literature. Essentially, you make judgements on the quality, perceptions and relevance of the work in relation to the body of literature as a whole. When creating an annotated bibliography, it’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions: 1. What was the hypothesis or concept the author was testing or evaluating? 2. What did the authors find? 3. Was the study reliable? Did they do the appropriate controls/statistics? 4. Was their interpretation of the results logical and make sense? 5. What (if any) contrasting views exist regarding these findings? 6. What are the broader implications of these findings? I have created an excel spreadsheet for you that will help you create your own annotated bibliographies. Please feel free to use this as a tool for your own annotated bibliography.