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Bus/Econ 380: Research Methods in Economics/Business: Annotated Bib/Lit Review

What's the purpose of an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography gives an account of the research you have done on a given topic.  The purpose is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. 

An annotated bibliography is NOT the same as an abstract, which simply summarizes a work's main points.  

  • To define the scope and quality of one's own research
  • To review the literature published on a particular topic
  • Provide a historical context for your research

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

  • Description can include
    • the main point, content or argument of a source. 
    • the author's point of view
    • any shortcomings or bias in the author's argument, research.
    • the author's credentials
    • any significant special features of the work (e.g., glossary, appendices, particularly good index)
  • Assessment
    • What is the value of this source to your research? 
    • How will you use it in your research?
    • Your own brief impression of the work

Literature Review

(with thanks to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center Literature Review)

Find a focus

A literature review is often organized around ideas, not the sources themselves. This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time. As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review.

Use evidence

Be selective

Use quotes sparingly

Summarize and synthesize

Keep your own voice

Use caution when paraphrasing


Other useful guides:

University of Wisconsin: Learn how to write a review of Literature


Not all the sources you look at will end up in your annotated bibliography or literature review!