BIO256 annotated bibliography

An “annotated bibliography” is a bibliography with an evaluative summary for each work. Its purpose is to inform the reader about the sources you consulted and your evaluation of those sources.  Annotations highlight the information you gleaned from each source and offer your assessment of the value of each source in your research. Include all sources, from the ones you found helpful to the less useful and relevant ones. This shows the amount of research you have done and also gives you a chance to demonstrate your ability to assess the quality of what you read.

An annotated bibliography kicks your research up to a whole new level. You get a better sense of what your sources say and a better sense of how you might arrange them in your own presentation. You will have a clear sense of how complete your research is, as bibliographies tend to show gaps in your research or argument very clearly. Thus, the annotated bibliography is an aid to organization and development of your ideas.

Your annotated bibliography will have three parts:

  • An introduction that clearly states the topic and your objective regarding that topic.  Your research will defend your thesis through analysis of data in the literature.  Your Introduction should provide an overview of that research, it should explain how the bibliography will help the reader, and how you have come up with the list of works that you have (how did you conduct your search?).
  • Complete bibliographic information in a standard and consistent academic style for each work (see below).  See the Department of Biology’s plagiarism web site,, which includes citation information.
  • An evaluative summary of each work. This immediately follows the bibliographic citation of the work, and has two parts.
    • The first describes the work:  What is it? What is its main point?
    • The second part evaluates the work in relation to your topic and objective. How does it apply to what you’re discussing?  How would you use it in your argument?  What in it might be helpful to readers to understand the topic?


  • Single space your heading, centered at the top of the first page. The heading should include the title, your name, the course, and the date. There should be no separate title page.
  • All annotated bibliographies must be single-spaced within entries, with one-inch margins (don’t use the 1.25” MS Word default) and spaces between each entry.
  • Include at least fifteen alphabetized citations, no more than four of which are Internet sources (see below for what constitutes an Internet source).  A well-researched bibliography may well include more than fifteen works, but that is the minimum.
  • A good range for each annotation is 100-150 words; some may be shorter, some longer.
  • Begin each entry at the left margin of your page. Each citation should use the “hanging indent” format.  Indent the annotation paragraph below the entry itself, as in the examples.
  • Submit your annotated bibliography via email – do not print.


I provide here a common format (illustrated in the examples below) that you should use.  Be sure you are completely consistent in how you format your sources.

A. Citing journal articles

A journal article may be primary or secondary.  Primary sources are descriptions of original research and present new data.  Secondary sources are reviews of the literature, or other articles that do not present new and original research, but rather summarize it.  Journal articles originally published in a print journal and downloaded off the web, or from a peer-reviewed online journal are not considered web sources.  In other words, if you obtain from the WWW a journal article originally published in a print journal or from an online-only journal, cite the article exactly as you would for a print source, but also append the web address and date you accessed the article.  Sources such as these don’t count toward the 4 web source limit.

Use the following format to cite a journal article (pay close attention here and below to punctuation!):

Primary Author’s Last Name Initials, Other Author’s Last Name Initials (Year) Title of article (only capitalize first word). Journal Volume Number: Page numbers.

Your comments and evaluative summary for each citation go here, right below the citation.  Note the indented margins for this paragraph – it is not a hanging indent – the entire paragraph is lined up below the indentation of the citation.


Oberdorster E & Cheek AO (2000) Gender benders at the beach: Endocrine disruption in marine and estuarine organisms.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 20:23-36.

Summary goes here… There should be no space between the citation and the summary paragraph.


Use the following format to cite a journal article retrieved from the WWW:

Primary Author’s Last Name Initials, Other Author’s Last Name Initials (Year) Title of article (only capitalize first word). Journal Volume Number: Page numbers, <URL>, Accession Date.


B. Citing books and book chapters:

Use the following format to cite a whole book:

Author Last Name Initials, Other Author’s Last Name Initials (Year) Title (capitalize first letter of first word and all other words except “of” “and” “a” “the”), edition (if not 1st). Publisher, Place, Number of pages.


Newman MC & Unger MA (2003) Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology, 2nd ed. Lewis Publishers, Inc. Boca Raton, FL, 458 pages.


Use this format for citing book chapters:

Author Last Name Initials, Other Author’s Last Name Initials (Year) Title of chapter. In: Title of Book, edition (editors). Publisher, Place, Number of pages.


Caswell H (1996) Demography meets ecotoxicology: Untangling the population level effects of toxic substances.  In: Ecotoxicology: A Hierarchical Treatment (Newman MC & Jagoe CH, editors).  Lewis Publishers, Inc. Boca Raton, FL, 788 pages.


C. Citing web sites:

Most web sites that are not online journals are not peer-reviewed, so their reliability is highly variable. It is rare to use such non-peer-reviewed web sites as sources for scientific writing. It is up to you to evaluate the reliability of a web site; consider the credentials of the author, the purpose of the web page, the organization for which the page was written, and the date of the last revision, among other things.  For on-line sources, provide as much information as you can about the actual author of the material and the title and date. As with a book, the author (or “Anonymous” if there is no author) goes first. If there is no author for the online source, there may be an email of the contact person for the website; give that instead. But give it at the end, not in place of the author’s name at the beginning. If you cannot find any name or date, use Anonymous as the Author and accession date as the Year.


To cite a web site, use the following format:

Author Last Name Initials, Other Author’s Last Name Initials (Date page created or revised) Title of page (appears at top of IE explorer window). Title of larger work if applicable. <URL>. Accession date.


Anonymous (12/29/2002) UC Davis Ecology – Ecotoxicology Home. Graduate Group in Ecology, UC Davis. 12/21/2003.


D. Examples of other sources

Proceedings or an Abstract to a Meeting or Conference:

Gage M & Paradise CJ (Nov. 2001) Effects of land use on insects in streams north of Charlotte, NC. Annual Meeting of Sigma Xi, Raleigh, NC.


Government Documents:

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (1989) Ecological Assessment of Hazardous Waste Sites, EPA 600/3-89/013, National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA, 260 pages.



If you use interviews provide the name of the person and date you talked to them.  For any other sources not mentioned here, follow above formats as closely as possible, ask me, use common sense, or see the plagiarism website referenced above for guidance.



  • Complete bibliographic information.
  • The following points should be considered as you develop annotations for each source:
    • The major points of the article and how those points relate to your topic.
    • Information to explain the authority and/or qualifications of the author. For example: Dr. William Smith, a biology professor at XYZ University, based his book on his research.
    • Scope and main purpose of the work.
    • Whether the data and conclusions support or refute your main thesis.
    • What theories are supported or rejected by the data reported in your references?
    • The relationship, if any, to other works in the area of study.  Are there conflicting conclusions by different sources you’ve analyzed?  If so, how do the conclusions differ?
    • Do you detect any bias in the investigators’ work (e.g., favoritism to a certain hypothesis or possible conflict of interest)?
    • How do the sources you found fit into the research framework we’ve developed?
    • How might the conclusions made in the source influence future directions or theories in this discipline?
    • A summary comment regarding the intended audience is often useful (e.g., “A popular account directed at educated adults.”).


I will evaluate your bibliography using the following criteria:

  • Thoroughness of Introduction: How well does it describe your bibliography and how you developed it?
  • Types of works: Have you found a wide range of source types? Are most academic, or are they general-interest? Are the sources credible and reliable?
  • Effort revealed by sources: Did you find an absolutely bare minimum number of sources, or is it clear that your search has been very thorough?  Did you find highly unusual sources or works that clearly took some extra time and effort to track down?
  • Evaluative Summaries: Is the work described fully enough for the reader to get a sense of it? Is it clear to the reader in what way you have connected the work to your project?
  • Directions: Have you followed the directions above?
  • Grades will be based on both the quality and quantity of the bibliography and your annotated analysis.