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Research Basics: Annotated Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a descriptive summary and/or evaluation.

Sometimes the annotation will reflect the applicability of the source to the needs of the researcher. 

The purpose of this type of bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.


Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968.

This book is part of a series called "Twentieth Century American Writers": a Brief Introduction to the Man and his Work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There's an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.

Example borrowed from the Writing Center at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

An annonation may include some or all of these parts: 

  • a citation to the source 
  • qualifications of the author(s)
  • purpose or scope of the work
  • topics covered
  • summary of findings or conclusions
  • audience or reading level
  • bias or standpoint of author(s)
  • relationship to works in the field
  • format/special features
  • relevance to your own research

Literature Review

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes within a certain time period. It can be a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis.

Sources included in a literature review may include: books, peer-reviewed articles, newspaper articles, videos, conference proceedings, and websites.You should only include sources that are relevant, recent and reputable.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Below are the most common types of annotated bibliographies:

  • Indicative:  Provides general information about the scope of the work and topics covered.
  • Informative: Provides a summary of the work.
  • Evaluative / Critical: Critcally evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the source and/or its author. Explains how the source may be useful to a particular field of study or personal research.
  • Combination: Uses a combination of some or all of the types mentioned above.

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