What is an annotated bibliography?
Let's begin with a basic bibliography. A bibliography is a list of resources that have been collected around a theme or subject. As such, bibliographies are typically made up of citations for books and articles, and they look much like the "references" or "works cited" pages you may have included with past research papers. Annotation simply means to add notes or description. An annotated bibliography is thus a list of citations along with notes on the usefulness of each of the items you cite.
Annotated how? This varies greatly depending on your assignment and area of study. Annotations often include an overview of the items being cited. Ask yourself: is the item relevant to the topic? Could it useful to other researchers? To your research? In what ways? Your annotations should add value to your citations for your reader, so be aware of the audience for your annotated bibliography, as well as its intended purpose.
The scope of an annotated bibliography can vary from project to project, but you can usually expect to find these elements:
Below are brief sample annotations by UNF librarian Maria Atilano. Note that the annotations for many annotated bibliography assignments must be more developed and engaged with the sources they cite. Be sure to follow the guidelines your instructor provides.
Dimwitty, Walter C. A Brief History of the Urge to Sleep Through Televised National Election Returns. SleepWalk Press, 1992.
This collection of essays pulls together research on voter apathy from the early 1960s through 1993. The variety of viewpoints represented here and the historical comparisons presented are the major strengths of this collection. A concluding chapter pulls together the author's assumptions about voter disinterest in televised election coverage and suggests possible strategies for re-engaging voters in the process.
Dunnow, I. "Predictors of Young Adult Voting Behavior; the Beavis and Butthead' Experience." Annals of Antipathy, vol. 30, no.1, 1995, pp. 57-98.
Dunnow's humorous satire of young voters also includes considerable research. Included are results of four surveys of first time voters conducted during the 1990s. Dunnow's tongue-in-cheek approach to developing his article entertains but doesn't distract the reader from the issues covered in the article.
Faulty, Brain. A.M. Bud's Wiser; a Study of Why People Don't Vote. Say So Press, 1995.
This detailed analysis of the growing apathy among American voters comes to some startling conclusions. One of the more interesting is that 60% of American men who leave work early to vote go instead to happy hour. One of the more useful chapters in the book is devoted to a state-by-state canvassing of voters and non-voters. Results are delivered in statistical tables and illustrated with bar graphs.
Shea, Daniel M., and Rebecca Harris. “Why Bother? Because Peer-To-Peer Programs Can Mobilize Young Voters.” PS: Political Science and Politics, vol. 39, no. 2, 2006, pp. 341–345. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20451744.
This article discusses the false stereotypes surrounding today’s young generation of voters. Although voting turnout is low, it is not due to overall apathy. This generation is more likely to volunteer. Shea and Harris suggest more peer-to-peer learning groups focused on politics. The social aspect of the paradigm may encourage more young people to become politically active.