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WGST 59: Feminist Approaches to Disability Studies: Annotated Bibliography

How to Write An Annotated Bibliography

Citation Guides and Style Manuals

Many short online guides are available to teach you how to create your list of references and how to do footnotes or in-text citations within your paper. They are usually enough for your needs.  The best known is "The OWL at Purdue", which offers guidelines for all the most popular styles:

APA (American Psychological Association)

MLA (Modern Languages Association)

Chicago/Turabian - Chicago Manual of Style




What is an annotated bibliography?

A. What is an annotated bibliography? 

A standard bibliography details the citation information of the consulted sources: author(s), date of publication, title, and publisher's name and location (and for articles: journal title, volume, issue and page numbers). The primary function of bibliographic citations is to assist the reader in finding the sources used in the writing of a work.

To these basic citations, the annotated bibliography adds descriptive and evaluative comments (i.e., an annotation), assessing the nature and value of the cited works. The addition of commentary provides the future reader or researcher essential critical information and a foundation for further research.

B. What each annotated bibliographic entry should include

Annotations begin on the line following the citation data and should be composed with complete sentences. Each annotation should include most, if not all, of the following:

  • Explanation of the main purpose and scope of the cited work
  • Brief description of the research conducted
  • Theoretical basis of the author's argument
  • Value and significance of the work (e.g., study’s findings, scope of the research project) as a contribution to the subject under consideration
  • Possible shortcomings or bias in the work
  • Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  • Conclusions or observations reached by you

C.  Questions you should be able to answer

Following are some questions to help you write the descriptive part of the annotation:

  • What kind of work is it? Book? Chapter? Essay? Popular magazine article? Scholarly journal article? Webpage?
  • Who is/are the author(s)? Consider background, position, qualifications. If there are many, as there might be with a web page, how would you characterize them as a group.
  • What was the author's stated purpose or motivation in writing the article or book, or in doing the research, or in contributing to the webpage? 
  • Who is the intended audience? This includes scholars in a discipline, the general public, workers in an industry, professionals in a field, people with a shared passion/interest or of a certain age group or political persuasion.
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor? This is especially relevant if the information source is related to an organization of some sort. Find out something about them. Find their webpage, mission statement, purpose.
  • Are there any significant attachments, appendices, statistics, data, images, weblinks, etc. included?
  • What is the basis for the research or data reported? This would include things like types of information used, methodology, problem statements, limitations.
  • What is the scope of the documentation? Look at the different information resources cited, their dates, formats, and quality as well as quantity.

Now some questions to help you write  the evaluative part of the annotation:

  • What aspects of the subject are emphasized? Is the author presenting one particular point of view?
  • What conclusions are drawn? Issues raised? Are the conclusions drawn justified or adequately substantiated?
  • Can you detect any biases or fallacies in the arguments or conclusions presented? Is anything clearly lacking? Do you feel like you have questions about what is or is NOT stated?
  • If information about the authors/sponsor/publisher was difficult to find or very limited, what does this lead you to believe  about the validity and authority of the information provided?
  • How effectively is the information presented? Are you left feeling confused? Are there gaps or holes?
  • Are there any other qualities of the source, like style, organization, or graphics, which effect its usefulness?
  • Is the work functioning as a primary or secondary source in your research?
  • How does this particular information source compare with or relate to the others you have read on the topic?
  • How useful was this work to you in your research? What role did it play?

D. Example: Annotated Bibliography Entries

Craig, R. S. (1992). The effect of day part on gender portrayals in television commercials: a content analysis. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 26 (5-6), 197-213.

Gender portrayals in 2,209 network television commercials from 1990 were content analyzed. To compare differences between three day parts, the sample was chosen from three time periods: daytime, evening prime time, and weekend afternoon sportscasts. The gender of the characters, their roles, the product advertised, setting and gender of primary narrator was noted. The results indicate large and consistent differences in the way men and women are portrayed in these three day parts, with almost all comparisons reaching significance at the .05 level. Although ads in all day parts tended to portray men in stereotypical roles of authority and dominance, those on weekends tended to emphasize escape from home and family. The findings of earlier studies which did not consider day part differences may now have to be reevaluated for they may have either overestimated or underestimated certain types of gender differences.

Esherick, J. W. & Wasserstron, J. N. (1990, November) "Acting out democracy: political
theater in modern China." Journal of Asian Studies, 49, 835-865.

This scholarly journal article provides an uncommon interpretation of the events of April-June, 1989 in  Beijing. The authors are history professors at American universities with recent firsthand experience in China. They base their article on research, personal observation and the written and pictorial records of events. Their stated goal is to create a framework in which to interpret the events that will place them within the context of Chinese political history and permit comparison with recent similar events in Eastern Europe. The conclusion drawn is that the events of April-June, 1989, in Beijing were not related to Western participatory democracy but rather to traditional Chinese forms and ideas and are characterized as political theater. As such, they are full of
symbols and scripts with unique Chinese historical bases.

Some material adapted from the UC Santa Cruz Library website,