Use AUT articlelinker to find fulltext articles available through the library.

Annotated bibliographies

This assignment type asks you to summarise a source, such as an article or book chapter.

  • Use full sentences and paragraphs (unless told otherwise by your lecturer)
  • Write one summary per source (often about 250 to 300 words each)
  • Provide a full reference at the beginning (not part of the word count)
  • Identify the research topic and context
  • Identify 2-3 main research findings
  • State the overall finding/significance of the research
  • Organise the sources in alphabetical order by author surname

Example annotated bibliography entry

Example annotated bibliography

Some assignment instructions may ask you to focus on other aspects of the source as well, such as research methodologies.

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Example annotated bibliography (PDF)

Each entry in an annotated bibliography begins with a full reference. Each source type (journal article, book chapter, website, etc) has slightly different formatting.

Example full reference for a journal article

Example full reference for a journal article

Video: 1:46

More about referencing

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Preparing to write annotated bibliographies

A note-taking grid can help you organise content from readings before you start writing your annotated bibliography.

Sample reading grid

You can create a grid like this for any assignment. Here’s a downloadable template you can use to get started.

Video (0:31)

Not sure how to start sentences in your annotated bibliography summaries? Visit the Academic Phrasebank from the University of Manchester for examples you can use in your writing, like these ones:

Sample sentence starters

Journals are collections of articles which focus on particular topics. These articles are published periodically, such as four times a year.  One common purpose of an article is to report on new research. For an annotated bibliography, journal articles can provide you with up-to-date content on topics you have to write or talk about. To efficiently read journal articles, you need to:

  • Quickly decide if the article is relevant for your assignment
  • Understand the structure so that you can find specific kinds of information

First page skimming

Information on the first page of the article will often help you decide if you should read further.

First page skimming

Abstracts are particularly good for quickly deciding if the content matches what you need for your assignment. They are usually organised into distinctive parts that provide an overview of the whole article.

Abstract structure

Abstract structure

Reading shortcuts

It is not always necessary to read the whole article. Two common shortcuts are:

Scanning: Use section headings of the article to find specific kinds of information.
Top and tail reading: slowly read the introduction section and then the conclusion to get a more detailed overview.

Common sections of a journal article

Journal articles commonly have distinctive parts (eg, Abstract, Literature Review, Discussion…). Each part has a clear function, which helps you to find specific information. (You may not need to read the whole thing.)

An annotated bibliography requires you to paraphrase key content from readings, such as findings in research articles.

Paraphrasing means that you:

  • Rewrite something in your own words, and
  • Include the author’s surname and year of publication (in an annotated bibliography, you wouldn’t normally do this unless you refer to another source in your summary)

Example of paraphrasing a research finding

Example of paraphrasing a research finding

Video (1:49)

An example of paraphrasing talked through and explained.

Video (2:02)

Three paraphrasing strategies explained with examples.

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