Organize & Describe Your Sources
You will have an annotated bibliography as one of your assignments in this class. The resources on this page will help you create it.
What Is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotation is a summary and / or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and / or evaluation of each of the sources.
How to Make It
The annotated bibliography is a tool to organize your sources and prepare to write a more extended discussion.
At the undergraduate level, the annotated bibliography is a common assignment to help students dive deeper into the literature of a particular subject.
The structure is simple: You will produce a bibliography following a standard format, similar to a reference list or list of works cited. Accompanying each bibliographic entry are one to three discussion paragraphs.
Each discussion should include the following:
Summary. Summarize the content of each source to demonstrate that you have read and understood it.
Evaluation. Consider the source’s relevancy to your topic. Your annotated bibliography should have a topical focus, so explain how this source fits into that topic.
Criticism. Read the source critically and evaluate the soundness of its data or the reasonableness of its interpretation. How does it compare to other sources on the same subject?
How to Find Sources
For your assignment, you will need primary and secondary sources.
Primary sources are peer-reviewed articles, published in academic journals, presenting original research. Secondary sources come in a variety of formats but summarize existing research rather than presenting new findings.
Most of our research databases are hosted by the company EBSCO and have the same layout:
To find primary sources in an EBSCO database, simply conduct a search and then select Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals from the left sidebar after your search results appear.
This will limit results to articles from academic journals, but keep in mind that it will exclude academic books, which may also be primary sources.
To find secondary sources, you may choose to limit results to Magazines or Trade Publications.
However, one of the most useful secondary sources is the literature review, an academic publication that summares existing knowledge instead of presenting new research.
Most of the databases cannot limit to literature reviews automatically. However, you can find them by selecting Advanced Search and following these directions:
Type your search into the first search box as you normally would.
In the second search box, type "literature reviews", including the quotation marks.
From the dropdown menu beside the second search box, select SU Subject Terms.
Run the search. The results should include only articles with Literature reviews as a designated subject term.
How to Format It
Follow any instructions you receive from your professor. The formatting guidelines here do not supersede the requirements laid out for your specific class and assignment.
There are several formatting styles, any of which could be used for an annotated bibliography.
Scientific Style & Format
For example, the citations in this research guide (with slight alterations to allow for the design of our website) follow the citation–sequence style of the Council of Science Editors (CSE), which informs the typography and citation guidelines of many scientific journals.
This style guide is on reserve at the J. W. Martin Library:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Many of the departments at Northwestern Oklahoma State University follow the style of the American Psychological Association, which you may also wish to use. The official publication manual of the APA includes instructions for annotated bibliographies.
This style guide is also on reserve:
According to the Publication Manual,
An annotated bibliography is a type of student paper in which reference list entries are followed by short descriptions of the work called annotations.3
See below (Fig. 5) for an example of an annotated bibliography in APA style.