Research Tips

Annotated Bibliographies

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Writing an annotated bibliography is a fundamental step to organizing your thoughts and tracking your findings during a large-scale research project such as the one you’re conducting during your Hugo Mentorship. The good news is that this is not a complicated process!

Many students have the impression that bibliographic research starts and ends with collecting and reading as many sources as possible. This basic form of research works just fine for small-scale research, such as an essay for class. But for longer-form research that takes months or years to complete, experienced researchers process their sources using an annotated bibliography. The annotated bibliography gives you a convenient way to organize and retrieve information for when you begin to write, which might be months or even years after you’ve initially read the paper.

The good news is that writing an annotated bibliography is not a very complicated process. For every paper/resource that you retrieve for your research, you should copy the following headings and fill in the information.


Write the citation in the correct style for your paper. (If you don't know how to write a bibliographic citation, please refer to our “How to Write A Bibliography” guide,  which gives detailed instructions.)


  • Beneath the citation, write your annotation, or notes, on the reading. The annotation should include:
  • What were the main findings or points of the paper?
  • What was the author's point of view or conclusion?
  • Do you agree with the point of view or conclusion?
  • How might you use this source in your paper? (Background? Support your argument? Refute your argument?)
  • How thoroughly did the author address the issue or question? (Did they only address one part of the question or problem?)
  • Do the research methods or logic seem appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Does the argument make sense? What are the logical flaws?
  • Do the findings from this paper agree with research in the field? Or contradict them?
Keep in mind

Each entry should be concise--one sentence or phrase per bullet point, so the whole thing is a paragraph (~150 words) long. Don't include any background notes or cross-references in the annotation, the info here should only be about the source you're citing. When in doubt, ask your mentor how they would like for you to format your annotations so you don’t waste time writing the wrong way!

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