WRITING AN ANNOTATED
An annotated bibliography is a list of selected literature with critical comments related to a
research topic. It generally includes books, scholarly articles, and other published material.
The content of the selected literature items is summarised in critical annotations, which
usually include an evaluation of their usefulness for the research purpose.
An annotated bibliography is presented in alphabetical order according to the authors’ surnames. The
bibliography is a selection of good quality relevant material that is accurate, uptodate, and generally peer
reviewed. The length of each entry (annotation) may vary from a couple of sentences to a number of
paragraphs. Check your assignment guide for clarification.
Content of a critical annotation
An annotation has two main sections:
• the reference details (bibliographic information)
• a description and comments on the material (annotation).
A critical annotation contains a summary of the content of each item in the bibliography. This should focus on
the value of the material for the research topic in relation to:
• its aims and philosophical or theoretical bases
• how it adds to the research in the field
• its place in—and relationship to—the wider field of research
• the intended audience
• the strengths and weaknesses of the source for your research purpose
• if it is original, important and of a high standard
• if the findings are sound, logical and well researched.
An annotated bibliography presents a quick and effective insight into some of the texts you have selected.
Therefore, it should present a description and evaluation of each item, in addition to an indication of how that
item contributes to your research topic.
Focus and language
The focus of annotated bibliography is on the source (‘the article outlines…’, ‘the book covers…’) and it is
written in paragraphs with complete sentences, generally in the present tense. The language should be formal
and objective, in an academic writing style.
In an annotation, you should summarise and comment on the content of the book or article, critically assess its
relevance to your research, and identify its contribution to the general field of inquiry.
* See next page for a sample critical annotation.
Study Tips: Annotated bibliographies 1 Jun 2015
Sample of a critical annotation
Look at this example of a critical annotation with some of the elements outlined. Each
annotation (summary) in an annotated bibliography is usually around 200 words, although this
may vary so you should check the assignment guide. Present your annotated bibliography in
alphabetical order according to the family name of the authors.
Features Example Elements
Starts with full
of the text.*
Raghuram, S, Garud, R, Wiesenfeld, B & Gupta, V 2001,
‘Factors contributing to virtual work adjustment’, Journal
of Management, vol. 27, pp. 383-405.
Use the correct
Write a brief
summary of the
text. Be concise.
Write in complete
apparent in the title
of the text can be
omitted from the
Study Tips: Annotated bibliographies 2 Jun 2015
The article explores the factors that facilitate or hinder
employees’ adjustment when moving from a conventional
office-based environment to a virtual work environment,
whether situated distantly or at home. The article suggests
that structural factors (such as work independence and
clear evaluation criteria) and relational factors (such as
feeling of trust in colleagues and management, and a
sense of connectedness to the company) are key
facilitators of successful adjustment. The researchers also
explore aspects such as age, gender and experience of
virtual work, as moderators of the key indicators.
Provides a brief
summary of the
content, including the
Outlines the most
applicable.] Mention only
The article provides a useful rationale explaining the basis
of the study design. The results are supported statistically
and graphic representations distil the important findings.
While the research sample is large, however, and a
representative cross-section of employees across genders,
job categories and management hierarchy is used, it may
be biased in the fact that the selection is limited to
employees in the telecommunication industries.
Furthermore, while all results correlate to measures of the
employees’ adjustment to virtual work, the findings rest
largely upon ‘self-perceived adjustment’. Whether or not
this is a reliable and accurate measure of successful
adjustment is not addressed.
Gives a critical
evaluation of the
May include an
evaluation of the
May identify possible
limitations of the
article or study.
discusses only one
text so there is no
need to cross
reference or use intext citations.
The finding that organisational connectedness is a
powerful factor in the adjustment to virtual work for men
has informed the present research on women in IT. The
article is useful to my research topic as Raghuram et al.
find that although a correlation between feeling connected
to the company and successful virtual work adjustment
still remains, it is much less significant for females. This
potentially supports the notion that women are well
suited to being the pioneers of the virtual work
Indicates how this
material may be
relevant and useful for
the writer’s research.
* Use the referencing style specified for your course. Author–date (Harvard) citation is used here.