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Biology 231 - Research Methods

A collection of resources aimed at assisting students to develop their scientific research methodology skills

What is An Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for books, articles, and/or documents that you have read in pursuit of your research.  Each citation is followed by a brief (at least 100 words) paragraph that describes and evaluates the source. 

Annotated bibliographies are useful tools for gathering and condensing information about the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources you're planning to cite in your paper/project/presentation. 

What Should Each Citation Include?

1.  The full citation for the source (or whatever citation style is required for the assignment). 

2.  A paragraph that includes:
     a.  A brief summary of the source – its main point or argument, written in your own words.
     b.  A description of the authority or background of the author(s).
     c.  A description of how this source compares and/or contrasts with other sources you have read on  
     this topic.
     d.  An explanation of how this source contributes to answering your research question.

3.  All of this needs to be written in your own words, to convey your own understanding of the
     source.  If you simply copy or lift language (or cut and paste) from the source or its abstract, you
     have failed.



Example 1:
Fullard, D. (2005). Biodiversity Education at a Natural World Heritage Site: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Roots 2(1): 3.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, in Cape Town, is the first botanical garden to be recognized as a natural World Heritage Site. The Kirstenbosch Environmental Education Program supports the World Heritage Convention’s mission to encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage. The program’s stated mission is to inspire and enable people from all walks of life to take responsibility for their environment. Learners/youth from the disadvantaged areas and under-resourced schools of the Cape Flats in the Western Cape participate in a curriculum-linked, gardenbased and outreach greening program which cover a wide variety of themes, learning program and activities. The article does not describe and specific outcomes or how program successes were measured and evaluated. 

Example 2:

Kletou, D., Hall-Spencer, J. M., & Kleitou, P. (2016). A lionfish (Pterois miles) invasion has begun in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Biodiversity Records 9(46)1-7. doi:10.1186/s41200-016-0065-y

This article discusses the recent invasion of the lionfish in the Mediterranean Sea and offers reasons for the sudden increase in the species' presence.  The study concludes that growth of the lionfish population can be controlled by encouraging commercial fishermen and divers to capture the lionfish to be sold on the market. While the article provides data and graphs that forecast the decline of the lionfish with a commercial fishing intervention, the methodology is incomplete. The researchers do not fully explain how they obtained these results.  The article does not address external factors that may derail the fishing plan proposed by the authors; for example, the researchers do not consider the population growth rate of the lionfish or how aggressive the fishing rate needs to be to control the population in a timely manner. Although the introduction is helpful in providing a framework for why the lionfish invasion is a concerning issue, the discussion lacks depth in addressing other issues that may arise.

(Source: University of West Florida LibGuides: EVR 2001: Introduction to Environmental Science.