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IAFS 4500 Post Cold War Global Security (Young): Write Your Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography and Why is it Important?

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

It is an organized, annotated ('with notes') list of resources. It includes all of the books, articles, reports, and other types of resources that you read for your project. In this class, it will be used as a tool to help you organize and stay on track of your research.

Why Wouldn't I Just Copy/Paste the Abstract?

Well for one, you would fail the assignment if you just copy the abstract! But more practically, the abstract of an article or book is just a summary of the contents. For an annotated bibliography, you want to describe the main points and evaluate the content, structure, or conclusions. You may also consider how useful or relevant it is to your research topic.

Why Would I Want an Annotated Bibliography?

You might begin your research in February, but maybe you won't start writing your paper until after Spring Break. Will you remember every detail from the articles, reports, and books that you read? If so, then good for you! But most of us need a little reminder. The annotated bibliography is a great tool for you to use during your research.


Annotated Bibliography Elements


  • Key points, conclusions, or recommendations

  • Surprising or interesting findings


  • May include questions related to:

    • Author bias

    • Purpose or Scope

    • Structure

    • Conclusions

    • Methodology

    • Relevance

    • Timeliness


  • How does this inform my project?

  • Is it useful? If so, what section of my project is it most applicable?


Tallman, Kathryn. Cite Your Article Here in Chicago Style: Advice about Annotated Bibliographies from Kate. Boulder: University of Colorado Libraries, 2016.

Begin the annotation with an introductory sentence explaining what the resource is; do not copy and paste the abstract. Maybe you can include something about the author’s research methods. Did they collect data from a survey or conduct interviews? Annotations can be 1-3 paragraphs, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you want this to be useful for you as you continue your research.

Now you can summarize the research and start evaluating the resource. Is it outdated? Is there a clear bias? Does it do an excellent job of organizing the information? Was there something in this study that was particularly interesting or surprising? Do you agree or disagree with the conclusion or methods? Remember that this annotation is for you and your research. When you are in the middle of writing your paper, this bibliography will help refresh your memory and organize your research. Finally, in the last part of your annotation, you could discuss how this resource is relevant or useful for you and your final paper.

In-Class Activity

Annotated Bibliography Practice Exercise

Break into Groups of 5 and follow the links below for a Google Doc with instructions

Take 5-7 minutes to skim the article given to your group. Discuss the most important points. What do you want to include in your annotation? Finally, as a group, write a 1-2 paragraph annotated bibliography in the Google Doc provided

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