Writing Help: Grammar, Style & Structure

bibliography usually refers to an alphabetical listing of the sources used "during the writing of a book or other written work, usually printed at the end of it" ("Bibliography," 2011). 

An annotated bibliography is a list of books, articles, and other sources by one author or on one subject that includes a brief descriptive commentary for each item.

Annotated bibliographies can be:

  • An assignment in which a student provides a list of sources that will be used for a project, research paper or thesis
  • A research tool that provides an overview of relevant sources that a researcher may wish to use or read, which can be formally published in scholarly journals

In addition to publication details, an annotated bibliography will typically include some or all of the following information for each item:

  • Summary of the content and main purpose of the item
  • Identification of the intended audience and point of view
  • Explanation of how and why the source is relevant, reliable and credible for a particular discipline or topic
  • Critique of the item, such as biases or flaws in argumentation
  • Assessment of the item's suitability for an academic project or research paper


Bibliography. (2001). In M. Robinson and G. Davidson (Eds.), Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. London, United Kingdom: Chambers Harrap. Retrieved from http://search.credoreference.com

There are several types of annotated bibliographies, such as selective, analytical and descriptive.

The following passages are examples of a basic or descriptive entry for an annotated bibliography, using journal articles from the LLC's database collection:

Martensson, L., & Hensing, G. (2012). Health literacy - a heterogeneous phenomenon: A literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 26(1), 151-160. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2011.00900.x

To gain a clear understanding of how health literacy is defined, Martensson and Hensing (2012) conducted an exploratory literature review of the topic using a narrative and integrative approach (p. 152). The study evaluated 592 publications found through a search of four electronic databases using the term “health literacy” in the title and abstract, when applicable (Martensson & Hensing, 2012, pp. 152-153). Analysis revealed two distinct approaches to health literacy. The first presented the concept as a “polarized phenomenon” divided into opposing levels of “low/inadequate and high/adequate health literacy” (Martensson & Hensing, 2012, p. 153). In contrast, the second approach placed health literacy in a broader social or cultural context, which results in an understanding of health literacy as a complex and dynamic phenomenon which is subject to change depending on the specific setting in which it is required or expressed (Martensson & Hensing, 2012, pp. 154-155). Martensson and Hensing (2012) conclude that health literacy is a broad and diverse phenomenon with importance at both the individual and societal levels (pp. 157-158). 

Sheldon, L.K., & Ellington, L. (2008) Application of a model of social information processing to nursing theory: How nurses respond to patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 64(4), 388-398. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04795.x 

The goal of this study was to determine if the Crick and Dodge model of social information processing can be successfully applied to the communication process between nurses and their patients (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008, p. 392). The Crick and Doug model of social interaction outlines the cognitive and emotional process an individual experiences while communicating (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008, p. 390). Interviews were conducted with five experienced nurses who were asked about communication strategies they used in the workplace (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008, p. 392). Analysis of the interviews revealed that the nurses’ strategies were aligned with the Crick and Dodge model. The researchers also discovered that the communication strategies outlined by the nurse participants were developed over time with professional experience (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008, p. 396). The authors concluded that social information processing models are useful for understanding effective communication in nursing, and that additional research is necessary to determine if this model is applicable in other cultural contexts (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008, p. 396).  

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