Skip to Main Content
Skip to Library Help widget

MCOM 600: Research Methods Seminar

What is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.

Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles.  The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.

Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:

  •     Main focus or purpose of the work
  •     Usefulness or relevance to your research topic 
  •     Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
  •     Background and credibility of the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by you


Annotations versus Abstracts

Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article.  This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation.  The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

Citation Managers: What Are They and Why Use Them?

Citation Managers are bibliographic management programs that will help you keep track of articles and books as you find them, organize your references and create bibliographies in 100s of citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.)

They will also allow you to:

  • Import citations as you research from databases and catalogs
  • Save and organize citations
  • Attach PDFs of articles, when available
  • Embed citations (footnotes or in-text) into your word processing documents
  • Collaborate with others online
  • Discover the latest research

The most popular citation managers are EndNote and Zotero. Below are their differences. Remember to always check with your professor if you are not sure.

EndNote - Web version (EndNote Online or EndNote Basic) free to anyone; integrates with MS Word; the Instruction Labs at the University Library have the Cite-While-You-Write plug-in on Word for students to access their EndNote web accounts

Zotero - Free to anyone; integrates with MS Word and/or Google Docs; must be installed on your own computer 

Zoterobib- Free to anyone; allows you to create an instant bibliography from your browser on any devices.

Criteria Zotero EndNote and EndNote Web
Website http://www.zotero.org/

http://endnote.com/

EndNote Web: https://www.myendnoteweb.com/

Web based? Yes, works with Firefox browser and can sync with online account; connectors for Chrome and Safari available EndNote is a standalone app but it can transfer library to EndNote Web.
Operating System Windows, Mac, Linux Windows or MAC
Cost Free for basic account and the standalone app. Some cost for more online storage space Free for EndNote Web but $$ for the standalone app.
Import from databases Yes Direct export from specific databases
Import citation info from web pages Yes, also archives the page and you can add annotations only with EndNote Web bookmarklet
Attach associated files (PDFs, etc.) Yes, with option to attach automatically Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs

adapted from American University Library and Penn State University Libraries

Annotated Bibliography video

Annotated Bibliography Examples

To see annotated bibliography formatting examples in APA and MLA citation styles see the University Library's Annotated Bibliography page.

Citing Your Sources

  • Citation Machine - Provides an interactive tool to help create reference citations for research papers. Includes various print and electronic resources. Note web site disclaimer before using. Also, double-check all citations you receive from citation generators for accuracy at APA Style Guides 7th Edition.

Report ADA Problems with Library Services and Resources