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CHEM 500 - Research Methods

Research tips & Resources for Chemistry Graduate Students

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is simply a bibliography with a paragraph or annotation that evaluates the quality and accuracy of a source.

Annotations are typically 150 words or less, summarizing the central theme of the work, critiquing the author or credibility of the source, and discussing why that source is relevant specifically for your research.

Information to consider including:

  • Authority of the author
  • Accuracy of the research
  • Strengths or weaknesses of the article
  • How the paper is related to your own research

Why Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Writing an annotated bibliography may seem like busy work, but it can really save you a lot of time!

Imagine you are writing a paper and you remember a really good quote that would be perfect for the section you're writing, but you can't quite remember where you read it. You end up hunting through 10-20 sources to find that quote wasting a lot of time in the process. An annotated bibliography would help you find that source more quickly.

Annotated bibliographies help you:

  • See how your research is situated within the larger research conversation (context)
  • Reinforce what you just read
  • Think of the research in your own words, which is helpful to avoid accidentally plagiarizing some else's work
  • Decide if you are interested in a topic area

How do I Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Just remember CSE: Cite, Summarize, Evaluate.

  1. Cite your source
  2. Summarize the source
  3. Evaluate the source

As you're writing your Annotation, Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the author credible?
  • What did I like or not like about the source?
  • Are the arguments effective? Does the author support her arguments?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • How might I incorporate this source into my paper?

Answering these types of questions will help you formulate an effective critique and evaluation of each source.


A color coded example of what your annotation might look like:

Battle, K. (2007). Child poverty: The evolution and impact of child benefits. In K. Covell & R.B. Howe (Eds.), A question of commitment: Children's rights in Canada (pp. 21-44). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs.  He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children.  His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children.  Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists.  He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favor of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography.  He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses.  Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents.  This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada. 



Additional sources that might help you: