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Social Work Research Guide

What is an annotated bibliography?

bibliography is a collection of citations from books, articles, documents, etc. used in a research project. Bibliographies are constructed using a specific citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

To annotate your bibliography, means to provide a brief summary or assessment of the resource.  

An annotated bibliography is an excellent way for you to critically analyze the content of a resource in a condensed fashion, typically from a few sentences to a few paragraphs, to aid in your own understanding of their resources, as well as provide important information to readers.

Annotated Bibliography Tutorial

What to include in an annotation

Here are some questions to consider as you read resources for your research:

  • Introduce the article. What is the point? 
    • Summarize the article. If someone asked you what it was about, what would you say?
  • What was done in the article?
    • What type of research was done? Did they conduct a study? Did they write a literature review? This will often be explained in the Methods section.
  • Why is this a good article for your topic?
    • How does it relate to what you are doing for your own research/assignment?
  • What isn’t included or mentioned in the article respect to your topic?
  • What are they saying overall? What is the takeaway? Focus on the Discussion and Conclusion sections to get the main takeaways.
  • Does this article support or argue against your topic? This is not a "good" or "bad" thing. It is not better to find only research that agrees with your point of view! 

Questions adapted from: Finding Resources Annotated Bibliography Fishbowl Lesson Plan

Sample APA Annotation

Tong, J., Qi, X., He, Z., Chen, S., Pedersen, S. J., Cooley, P. D., Spencer-Rodgers, J., He, S., & Zhu, X. (2021). The Immediate and Durable Effects of Yoga and Physical Fitness Exercises on Stress. Journal of American College Health, 69(6), 675–683.
The authors conducted two studies to evaluate the effects of yoga and aerobic exercise classes on stress reduction in college students. The first study measured immediate effect after a 60-minute practice, and the second measured longer term effects after a 12-week intervention. Both types of exercise were shown to reduce stress, though yoga was more effective in both short and long-term than aerobic exercise. Participants in yoga classes had a significant reduction in stress (p < .001) and improvement in mindfulness scores (p < .05) after a single class. The researchers suggest that offering physical exercise courses, yoga in particular, is an effective strategy college counselors can incorporate to counter stress and anxiety.