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Literature Reviews

How to understand and write a literature review for an academic paper or research article.

Annotated Bibliographies

Definition

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of books, articles, and other documents used in your research. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

(Definition used with permission from How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography by Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA)


Format

When annotating a citation, structure it in the following format. You're not separating out the different parts of the annotation, but use this as a guide:

Citation of document.
Summary of document - key arguments, data, etc.
Assessment of document - evaluate, compare to other documents.
Reflect on the document - how does this document fit your research? What does it offer? Does it change how you see the issue?

Example

From University of Toronto New College Writing Centre:

McIvor, S. D. (1995). Aboriginal women's rights as "existing rights." Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 2/3, 34-38.

This article seeks to define the extent of the civil and political rights returned to aboriginal women in the Constitution Act (1982), in its amendment in 1983, and in amendments to the Indian Act (1985). This legislation reverses prior laws that denied Indian status to aboriginal women who married non-aboriginal men. On the basis of the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of the Constitution Act in R. v. Sparrow (1991), McIvor argues that the Act recognizes fundamental human rights and existing aboriginal rights, granting to aboriginal women full participation in the aboriginal right to self-government.