Annotated Bibliography

The research required for your annotated research bibliography will refine your skills performing college-level scholarly investigation, familiarize you with the most common print and online tools available at Wooster, and give you practice evaluating authors’ use of sources and point of view when compiling evidence for your project. I also want you to think about how the information available through different formats compares, and what historians need to
take into account when evaluating sources.

Your annotations should present a picture of the current scholarly literature. An understanding of how other researchers have approached your question – including those who disagree with your conclusions – is essential to presenting a well-considered and balanced argument.

This research should provide the background to orient your research projects: the Wikipedia Article, your presentation, and your History with Documents Reader.

What is an annotated bibliography?

Annotations are brief (estimated 150-250 word) entries that contain one or two sentences summarizing content followed by a few sentences presenting your evaluation of the work. Annotations should provide sufficient information so that a reader may decide whether or not to read the work itself. They clarify the relationship between different sources by differentiating their arguments, use of evidence, conclusions, and biases. They also allow your reader to assess your use of sources and evidence in supporting your argument.

Examples of Research Annotations I Wrote

The following 5 points provide guidance for writing an annotation:

Start with a full Chicago bibliography style citation.  Then,

  1. Tell us the authority and the qualifications of the author in the first sentence:  “Omar Valerio-Jiménez, a professor specializing in borderlands and immigration history at the University of Texas at San Antonio,…”
  2. Explain the scope, argument, and evidence used in a few sentences.  BE SPECIFIC!
  3. Clairfy the author’s assumptions and approach, along with any cautions the reader should keep in mind in evaluating the text. This might include characteristics that identify the source’s perspective, such as funding source, author’s affiliation, etc. “The article was published in Mother Jones, a magazine known for its left-leaning political perspective.” or “Dos Santos, a social historians, uses census records to uncover the occupations of new immigrants…”
  4. Explain how the author’s argument relates to other key sources in the field. Make sure to indicate any shared ideas or disagreements you see between your sources.
  5. Conclude your annotation with a summary comment: “Hoganson’s study sheds light on my research question by showing…”

Source Selection:

For this assignment, your bibliography must include annotations for at least six secondary sources and at least two primary sources. Make sure that they are all high quality, pertinent sources. You’ll be evaluated on variety and quality of your sources – demonstrating your research skills – as well as your annotations.

Your six secondary sources must include at least one example from each of the following categories:

  • an article from a history journal (these might include the Hispanic American Historical ReviewAmericas, or the Journal of American History)
  • an article by a scholar who is not a historian
  • a scholarly history book (published by a University Press)
  • a reputable website (not an electronic journal or book)

Please check with me if you are not certain if your sources fit in these categories.  As part of the assignment, you’ll also be writing a short memo explaining your search strategies and source selection.
You need to read the source carefully to write a successful research annotation.

Research Memo:

Before your annotations, write a short research memo:

  • Clearly and concisely state your research question. What are you investigating, and what is its historical significance?
  • What search strategies did you use to find these sources?  What databases and keywords did you use?
  • Why are these sources the best sources for your project? How did you decide which sources to cut?

Important Dates:

  • Research Workshop on Zotero & OhioLink Search Strategies on Friday, January 24
  • Research Workshop: Library Databases on Friday, February 21
  • Blog Post with two draft research annotations on Monday, February 24
  • Research Proposal (with preliminary list of sources) on Wednesday, February 26
  • Upload your final Annotated Bibliography to Moodle before 4pm on Friday, March 6

Annotated Bibliography Rubric LAUS SP20

You are encouraged to consult reference librarians or the Writing Center at any stage of this project.


  • On the first page, write your research memo.
  • Next come your annotations.  Divide your annotations into Primary and Secondary sources, and then organize your entries alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Single space the bibliography and the annotations, but leave an extra line between each entry. Each annotation follows immediately below its bibliographic entry, and is indented for greater readability.
  • Remember to use the Chicago style Bibliography format for your entries. See Rampolla’s Pocket Guide to Writing in History, or format them in Zotero.