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Nursing Annotated Bibliography Guide Plus Topics

Understanding Annotated Bibliographies: A Detailed Guide

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (like books, articles, websites etc.) on a particular topic, with a short descriptive paragraph about each source. It’s kind of like a reference list, but with a little summary or evaluation included for every source.

Teachers often assign annotated bibliographies either as a separate assignment, or as part of a bigger project like a research paper or essay. If it’s a separate assignment, you just make the annotated bibliography on its own. But if it’s part of a bigger project, you write the project first (like the research paper), and then put the annotated bibliography at the end before the reference list.

The little paragraph written about each source is called the annotation. The annotation summarizes what the source is about, describes the main arguments or findings, evaluates how useful or reliable the source is, and explains how it relates to your research topic.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies


This type provides a summary or overview of the source without offering any critical analysis. For example:

  • Example: “This book discusses the history of artificial intelligence and predicts future developments.”
  • Purpose: It simply describes what the source is about, its main arguments, and conclusions.


This type goes beyond summary to evaluate the source’s strengths and weaknesses. For example:

  • Example: “This article is well-researched but biased towards a positive view of AI.”
  • Purpose: It analyzes the source’s credibility, its contributions to the field, and any limitations.

Why Write an Annotated Bibliography?

  1. Understand Your Sources: Writing annotations helps you get familiar with the material on your topic.
  2. Organize Your Research: It keeps your sources organized and makes them easily accessible when you write your paper.
  3. Evaluate Sources: It assists in selecting high-quality, relevant sources by evaluating their credibility and relevance.
  4. Prepare for Writing: It helps in planning your paper by showing how each source will contribute to your research.

Steps to Write an Annotated Bibliography

  1. Read the Assignment:
  • Understand Requirements: Know the specific instructions given by your professor, such as the preferred format (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) and the length of each annotation.
  • Clarify Goals: Determine if the annotated bibliography is a stand-alone assignment or part of a larger project.

2. Find Sources:

  • Use Scholarly Databases: Search for sources using databases like JSTOR, Google Scholar, PubMed, and Project Muse.
  • Define Scope: Choose sources that are relevant to your topic and meet the criteria specified in your assignment (e.g., recent publications, peer-reviewed journals).

3. Organize and Read:

  • Organize Alphabetically: Arrange your sources alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Take Notes: As you read each source, take detailed notes on key points, arguments, and any relevant information.

4. Write Annotations:

  • Citation: Start with a complete citation in the required format (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Annotation: Write a 100-200 word summary or evaluation of the source. Include the following elements:
    • Summary: Briefly describe the main arguments and conclusions of the source.
    • Evaluation: Assess the credibility, relevance, and quality of the source.
    • Reflection: Explain how this source will be useful in your research.

5. Format Properly:

  • Follow Guidelines: Ensure your annotated bibliography adheres to the required format (APA, MLA, etc.).
  • Concise Annotations: Keep each annotation between 100-200 words, focusing on being concise and informative.

Types of Annotations

  1. Informative:
  • Purpose: Summarizes the source’s content, including the thesis, arguments, and conclusions.
  • Example: “This article explores the development of AI technologies and their potential future impact. The authors argue that AI will revolutionize various industries but also present ethical challenges.”

2. Descriptive:

  • Purpose: Describes the source’s approach and arguments without evaluating its quality.
  • Example: “This book provides a comprehensive overview of AI, covering its history, current applications, and future prospects. It includes detailed discussions on machine learning and neural networks.”

3. Evaluative:

  • Purpose: Critically assesses the source’s quality, usefulness, and relevance.
  • Example: “This journal article is well-researched and provides a balanced view of AI’s benefits and risks. However, it lacks detailed case studies, which limits its practical applicability.”

4. Reflective:

  • Purpose: Evaluates the source’s relevance and usefulness for your specific research project.
  • Example: “This source offers valuable insights into AI’s ethical implications, which will be crucial for the ethical framework section of my research paper.”

Example of an Annotated Bibliography Entry

For example, let’s say you were researching the effects of excessive smartphone use on teenage anxiety and depression. One of your annotations might look like:

Williams, A. R., & Woodruff, S. K. (2020). Getting FOMO: A look at how smartphone overuse impacts the mental health of adolescents. Journal of Youth and Technology Studies, 15(2), 118-142. https://doi.org/10.5555/jyts.2020.15.2

In this peer-reviewed journal article, the authors present their original research examining the correlation between excessive smartphone use and increased levels of anxiety, depression and feelings of social isolation in teenagers. Williams and Woodruff, who are psychologists and experts in this field, conducted a two-year study with over 500 high school students. Their data was collected through psychological testing, self-reporting from the teens, and monitoring of smartphone screen time.

The authors found a significant positive correlation between the amount of daily smartphone use and the frequency/severity of anxiety, depression and FOMO (fear of missing out). Their study built upon prior research showing similar correlations but included a larger sample size across multiple communities. While the authors acknowledge the study’s limitations, such as purely correlational data and self-reported mental health measures, they make a strong statistical argument for the negative psychological impacts of smartphone overuse in adolescents.

This source is highly relevant to my research on smartphone addiction and mental health effects in teens. As one of the most recent and comprehensive studies directly investigating this issue, it provides robust empirical evidence from credible experts in the field. The quantitative data and analysis here will be invaluable for understanding the scope of the problem and supporting my central claims.

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Writing an Annotated Bibliography: Detailed Steps

First Step: Read the Assignment Prompt

    • Understand the Requirements: Carefully read the instructions provided by your professor to understand the specific requirements for your annotated bibliography, including the format, length, and the type of annotations needed.
    • Clarify Any Doubts: If any part of the assignment is unclear, seek clarification from your instructor.

    Second Step: Find and Select Suitable Sources

      • Identify Relevant Keywords: Define keywords related to your topic to help you search for appropriate sources.
      • Use Scholarly Databases: Search for sources in scholarly databases like JSTOR, Google Scholar, PubMed, and Project Muse.
      • Evaluate Sources: Select sources that are recent (preferably within the last five years) and relevant to your research question or topic.
      • Quality Check: Ensure the sources are credible and scholarly, avoiding unreliable sources.

      Third Step: Organize, Read, and Evaluate the Sources

        • Organize Sources: Use an online bibliography tool or citation management tool to organize your sources alphabetically.
        • Read Thoroughly: Carefully read each source, taking notes on the main points, arguments, and any significant information.
        • Evaluate Content: Assess the credibility, relevance, and quality of each source to determine its usefulness for your research.

        Fourth Step: Write Your Annotations

          • Citation: Begin each entry with a complete citation in the required format (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
          • Annotation Content:
            • Summary: Briefly describe the main arguments and conclusions of the source.
            • Evaluation: Critically assess the credibility and relevance of the source.
            • Reflection: Explain how the source will be useful in your research project.
          • Length: Ensure each annotation is between 100-200 words, concise, and informative.

          Fifth Step: Format Your Annotated Bibliography

            • Follow Guidelines: Adhere to the formatting guidelines specified in your assignment (APA, MLA, etc.).
            • Concise and Clear: Keep annotations concise and clear, ensuring they provide valuable insights into the sources.
            • Alphabetical Order: Arrange the sources alphabetically by the author’s last name.

            By following these detailed steps and tips, you can create a clear, organized, and effective annotated bibliography that will support your research and writing projects.

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