The annotated bibliography is a list of your sources including citations and accompanying descriptions. Sources are listed in alphabetical order by author’s last named, allowing you to keep all of your sources in one place and offering other researchers insight into your materials.
Each entry on your annotated bibliography must have at least these two parts:
- a citation
- a summary
More involved annotated bibliographies may also include one or both of the following:
- an evaluation of the source’s credibility
- an indication of how the source will be used
The summary portion will consist of three points:
- The question or problem addressed by the article (the “topic)
- The article’s method of analysis (experimental? theoretical?)
- The article’s thesis, conclusions, and/or recommendations
The evaluation of credibility will note things such as:
- The timeliness of the study/paper.
- The author’s level of expertise (how much has he published in this field?)
- The source’s credibility (do they have a known bias, are they peer-reviewed, are they funded by a think tank with a political ideology?)
The assessment of the usefulness of the article to your project will disclose:
- What about the study is useful to your paper (an argument, a set of facts, the bibliography?)
- How you intend to use it (Does it support your main argument? Is it a counter argument? A refutation of a counter argument?)
A Sample Annotated Bibliography Entry
Kharecha, P. A., & Hansen, J. (2013). Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power. Environmental Science and Technology, 47 (9), 4889–4895. doi: 10.1021/es3051197
In Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power, Kharecha and Hansen(2013) hypothesized that replacing carbon-producing fuels with nuclear power could “prevent an average of 420 000–7.04 million deaths and 80–240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by mid-century, depending on which fuel it replaces” (p. 4889). They correlated the historical output of CO2 to the resultant air pollution-related deaths to determine that the use of nuclear power since 1971 has prevented “ an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning” (p. 4889). The authors found that increased reliance on nuclear energy would be safer and less ecologically harmful than continued reliance on fossil fuels or expansion of natural gas use. The publisher of this paper, American Chemical Society, is known to be a reputable, peer-reviewed source, but it has lately come under fire by the libertarian-leaning Watts Up With That blog for presenting a political agenda. Because of the known bias of Watts Up With That, such claims are not necessarily prohibitive; likewise, there are no peer-reviewed studies refuting the data of the article. This article is especially useful for discussing the opportunity costs of society’s dependence on coal and oil as well as for calming some of societies’ concerns about nuclear energy.