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GEOG 410 - Research Methodology

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, in APA style (or whatever citation style is required for the assignment). 

2.  A paragraph that includes:
     a.  A brief description of the source – its main point or argument, written in your own words.  You want to strike a  balance between a summary and a critical evaluation.

     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.

      e. Highlight any strengths and weaknesses of the source.

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.

Examples

 

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.  https://libguides.uwf.edu/c.php?g=436278&p=3891645)

Sample Exercises

 

These samples have different strengths and weaknesses. The highlighting demonstrates which part of the annotation is summary and which part is evaluation. A librarian's evaluation of each annotation is provided. 

Annotation 1: 

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2011. Print. 

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential researchEhrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on minimum wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Wal-Mart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation. An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich's project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched. 

Librarian's Score: A-

This annotations include both summary and evaluation. The evaluation addresses authority and accuracy, but it could be a little stronger. For example, it could answer: What audience would benefit from reading this book? What I like about this annotation is the evaluation includes both the upside and downside to Ehrenreich's approach. It speaks to her position as the author (to wit: she's experienced, but she also backs up her work with research). The summary is also very good. I get a good sense of what this is about. 

Annotation 2: 

Waite, Linda J., Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults." American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.

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. 

Librarian's Score: C

This annotation is mostly summary. The summary is strong, but the evaluation is weak. I’m glad to learn that the authors work for reputable institutions, but more evaluation could be included.

Annotation 3: 

Kotrla, Kimberly. "Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States." Social Work 55.2 (2010): 181-187. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Mar 2012. 

This article is about the sex trafficking of children and young adults. It is more commonly now being called "domestic minor sex trafficking." It is considered modern-day slavery. The author discusses: victims, the supply and demand of domestic minor sex tracking, how different countries tolerate it, help provided to survivors, and what this type of trafficking is. This evidence is credible because it comes from social workers who work for the government. The goals of this source is to explain to people what domestic minor sex trafficking is, who is at risk, and what social workers can do to stop this problem. It also brings up the human trafficking in the United States. The author, Kimberly Kotrla, is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She was a social worker for 10 years and does a lot of research about human trafficking. She gives most of her attention to the sexual exploitation of children in America. Kotrla is also on the human trafficking prevention task force committee. The audience of this article is most likely parents of young children and social workers. Published in 2010, it is fairly current. I felt that this source was an easy read, but written for a mature and educated audience.

Librarian's Score: B

This student did a great job of combining summary and evaluation. She told me what the article is about, its content as well as its purpose ("The goals of this source is..."). She addresses the author's credentials, the audience for the piece, and currency, and also the accuracy of the information ("social workers who work for the government"). However, this annotation lacks a critical analysis of how this article is relevant for the student's research question.

 

Source: https://libguides.sonoma.edu/c.php?g=202672&p=1354271 (downloaded 17AUG2022)