Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
library logo

Ask us!

Social Policy and Politics - HMNS 207 - Gutshall-Seidman

Annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography not only summarizes the resource, it also explains how it is relevant to your research.

An annotated bibliography is a list of cited sources with brief explanations centering around one topic or research question. The purpose is to help the reader of the bibliography understand the uses of each source and the relationships of one source to another. It will also help you, the researcher, decide which resources are best for your project. 

Some questions to consider when writing your annotated bibliography:

  • Who is the author(s) and what qualifies them to write this? (AUTHORITY)
  • What was done? A study? A literature review? (METHODS)
  • Why is this a good article for your paper? (USEFULNESS)
  • What is best about this and what isn’t included? (STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES)
  • What are they saying overall? What is the takeaway? (CONCLUSION)
  • Does this support or argue against your topic? (REFLECTION)

More information on annotated bibliographies can be found on the Excelsior OWL website


Creative Commons License
The above work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.


Annotated bibliography definition adapted from Susan Archambault's Annotated Bibliography Assignment: Archambault, Susan. "Annotated Bibliography." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2015.
Bulleted list adapted from Aisha Conner-Gaten's Finding Sources and Annotated Bibliography Fish Bowls lesson plan: Conner-Gaten, Aisha. "Finding Sources and Annotated Bibliography Fish Bowls." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017.

Annotated bibliography example

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.


The above example was reproduced with permission from Cornell University Library's guide "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography." The source of this content is Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. The original content can be found here: