What is the Difference Between an Annotated Bibliography and Other Similar Paper Types?

Writing Tips

What mostly confuses the students is whether there is a difference between an annotated bibliography, an abstract and annotation itself. To make it clear once and for all, remember these simple significant features of those.

An abstract is a paper that describes only. It simply summarizes a book or another scientific source.

Unlike abstract, an annotation is both descriptive and critical (or estimative). It gives not only a summary but also information about a publication so that you can decide whether to read it or not.
And finally, what is an annotated bibliography? It is a list of the sources used while writing a scientific work. At the same time, each source is followed by a short paragraph-size annotation of 100 – 200 words.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies may differ from each other depending on the type of your assignment. According to its main purpose, an annotated bibliography can:

a literature review on a specific subject
• Form a thesis
• Show the researches you have made on a particular topic
• Give examples of the sources that were used during the writing of your research
• It can also describe some issues that might be interesting for the readers and other scientists about your topic

There are also two main kinds of annotated bibliography. They are:

  • Descriptive (also known as informative)
  • Critical (you can also find it being called Analytical)

Let’s see what makes them different from each other.

  1. Descriptive annotated bibliography

As you can see from its name, it describes the sources, as well as explains their use for the subject of research and indicates their most essential features. Also, this type of bibliography provides an author’s reasons and findings, but it never gives any judgments or evaluations of them!

Here is an example of descriptive annotated bibliography:

Breeding evil. (2005, August 6). Economist, 376(8438), 9.
This editorial from the Economist describes the controversy surrounding video games and the effect they have on people who use them. The author points out that the skepticism of new media has gone back to the time of the ancient Greeks, so this controversy surrounding video games is nothing new. The article also points out that most critics of gaming are people over 40 and it is an issue of generations not understanding one another, rather than of the games themselves. As the youth of today grow older, the controversy will die out, according to the author. The author of this article stresses the age factor over violence as the real reason for opposition to video games and stresses the good gaming has done in most areas of human life. This article is distinctive in exploring the controversy surrounding video games from a generational standpoint and is written for a general audience.

  1. Critical annotated bibliography

As you might have already guessed, this kind of bibliography, in contrast to a descriptive one, both describes and gives an analysis of the paper and the topic. Pros and cons, strong and weak sides and workability of the author’s conclusions – everything is highlighted here.

Writing Tips for Annotated Bibliography

How to write an annotated bibliography? It may seem difficult, but in fact, there is nothing to be afraid of. Just follow several easy steps.

  • Pick the sources

Make records of citations to any sources that may be useful in your research.

  • Items review

Review and pick those items that correspond to your topic most and give various perspectives on your subject of matter.

  • Citation & annotation

Into your annotated bibliography you may include the aim of your research, the content’s summary, and the paper’s special or particular features if any. Also, it may be useful to mention what kind of audience it can be interesting, as well as indicate its strong and weak sides.

  • Pay attention to citation style and formatting

It is indeed important! It is always better to check it with your teacher, but usually, all the bibliographic data of your sources must be presented in either APA or MLA style.
When writing annotation itself, make sure it is composed in paragraph form. Also, if the purpose of your annotation is only to summarize, don’t make it too long. And on the contrary, for analyzing something use more detailed sentences.

In any case, if you are still not quite sure of how your annotated bibliography shall look like, use any online academic writing guide to find an annotated bibliography example.

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