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What is an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of citations to information sources such as books, articles, documents, web sites, etc. In an annotated bibliography each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy and quality of the sources cited. Annotated bibliographies are often called guides to the literature.

Sample Descriptive Annotations

A descriptive annotation describes the content of the work without judging it. It does point out distinctive features.

1. Piatt, Christian and Amy Piatt. MySpace to Sacred Space: God for a New Generation. Atlanta, GA : Chalice Press, 2007.

The popularity of social networking sites indicates the overwhelming desire for community among youth and young adults, and the author’s online survey of young adults confirms a great interest in spirituality. This book is as extraordinary resource for anyone in ministry trying to understand young adults and their religious lives.

2. Rusch, William F. Ecumenical Reception: Its Challenge and Opportunity. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007

After tracing the dynamic ways in which the concept of reception has fostered unity and diversity among churches throughout history, Rusch then proceeds to examine and diagnose the modern realities of reception in the context of the ecumenical movement.

Samples taken from Missiology vol. 36, 2008

References are in MLA format.

Sample Critical Annotations

A critical annotation is evaluative when discussing works and considers how a book, article, website, etc. stands up against most of the published works in a particular field of study. This type of annotation would include how a work relates and compares to other works on the topic, and whether the work would be useful to others exploring the topic. The words in bold indicate what part of the annotation makes it a critical one.

1. McKim, Donald K. Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, Ill. : IVP Academic Press, 2007.

This is a much expanded edition of a work that has already found its place among the indispensable tools of the biblical scholar. In this new edition some two hundred entries are found, updating the work significantly and expanding its scope. In addition there are major essays treating the history of biblical interpretation. A reading of sample entries indicate that they are succinct in format, readable and provide an excellent introduction to the subjects they treat and to their major works. As is clearly acknowledged, there are relatively few women writers (reflecting past if not contemporary trends in the subject area) and few from outside of a western context.

2. Hamel, Ronald P. and James J. Walter. Artificial Nutrition and Hydration and the Permanently Unconscious Patient: the Catholic Debate. Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, 2007.

This is an essential book for any library that aspires to maintain a decent bioethics section. It contains a substantial collection of essays and official teaching documents that seek to present and develop Roman Catholic teaching on the care of patients who are permanently unconscious. Familiar distinctions between ordinary and extraordinary means of care, and between natural / normal and artificial, are considered at length. Medical, historical and pastoral considerations come first, including documentation from the American Academy of Neurology and from US bishops. This is followed by some well-respected earlier considerations of ethical and theological perspectives on this issue. Next comes the 2004 statement of John Paul II on care for patients in a ‘permanent’ vegetative state along with four responses to it. Finally some legal and public policy perspectives are discussed. In one book, therefore, the student is given a comprehensive and up-to-date series of reflections on one of the most controversial bioethical issues.


Samples taken from: Theological Book Review vol. 20 No.2, 2008

References are in MLA format.