The Advantages of an Annotated Bibliography

Start writing your annotated bibliography early in your research.
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A traditional bibliography is a list of sources, while an annotated bibliography includes a brief summary to go along with each source. To reap all the advantages of an annotated bibliography, begin writing it when you start your research to help you avoid procrastination, understand your topic better and develop your point of view. The format of an annotated bibliography is not uniform. Some include just a summary, while others also feature evaluation of the source.

1 Annotated Bibliography Basics

In an annotated bibliography, in addition to listing your sources, you include a summary. This summary, which is typically about 150 words long, briefly describes the contents of the source, evaluates its methods and determines its usefulness for your research. It should be critical, descriptive and highlight the author’s accuracy, opinion and quality of research.

2 Better Understanding

Writing an annotated bibliography forces a researcher to better understand his topic. While you are still collecting sources, begin writing your bibliography. This allows you to understand where your research fits into the bigger picture. Writing an annotated bibliography helps you gain prospective on your thesis and develop your point of view. It also helps you understand what other research already exists regarding your topic.

3 Avoid Procrastination

According to a 2006 study by Michelle Coulson of the University of Adelaide, Australia, annotated bibliographies can decrease procrastination. Requiring students to hand in an annotated bibliography early in the research process facilitates a more effective use of study time. It also prevents students from intentionally delaying their research, which often leads to a better grade.

4 Helps With Research

In the Coulson study, students reported that an annotated bibliography helps improve research skills. When you are forced to critique each source, you practice and improve your literary research skills. However, the advantages of an annotated bibliography do not only apply to your research process. An extensive annotated bibliography provides a comprehensive overview of a topic. These summaries can help your readers decide if a source would be useful for their own research.

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.