Nursing Annotated Bibliography

So you’ve been assigned an annotated bibliography . . . what does that mean?

An annotated bibliography is a descriptive list of resources (books, articles, films, sound recordings, Web sites, etc.) focusing on a common theme. Each entry in an annotated bibliography has a full citation and an annotation ranging from a few sentences to several paragraphs.

The citation provides information about the author, title, date, source, and publisher of the item. Citations should be formatted according to one of the style manuals: MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago/Turabian. See our guide on Citation Styles for more information.

The annotation is a concise and informative description that summarizes and evaluates the contents of a resource. It differs from an abstract, which just summarizes the original content. An annotation usually strikes a balance between summary and evaluation by addressing some of the following:

  • Describe briefly the content of a resource
  • Evaluate the usefulness of the item for the particular topic being studied
  • Explain the methodology that was used
  • Draw attention to any themes addressed
  • Highlight strengths and/or weaknesses
  • Discuss the reliability of the author or source
  • Critically evaluate the content for accuracy, bias, and authority

Sample Annotations

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 research, Ehrenreich 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.

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