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Social Work Research Guide

An introduction to finding Social Work Resources

What is an annotated bibliography?

A 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.

What do you need 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

Example Annotation APA

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.
An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.
*“Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliographies,” Purdue Online Writing Lab, accessed February 13, 2019