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RHET 1000: Rhetorical Arts

Rhetorical Arts: Speaking & Writing for Social Justice

Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • A bibliography is a list of resources cited in a consistent style format (such as MLA).
  • An annotation is a brief evaluative summary of a book, article, or other publication.
  • An annotated bibliography, then, is a list of cited sources with brief explanations centering around one topic or research question. The purpose is to help the reader of the bibliography understand the uses of each source and the relationships of one source to another.


Why should I write an annotated bibliography?

  • To Learn about your topic
  • To Evaluate your sources
  • To Reflect on your sources


From OWL:

How To Create An Annotated Bibliography

Example MLA Style Annotation

[STEP 1] Smith, John."Causes of the Russian Revolution." Critical Essays on the Russian Revolution, edited by David Fry, MIT Press, 1973, pp. 91-133.

Smith, [STEP 4] a Russian history professor at USC, based his research in this book chapter on documents discovered in the early 1970s. He reveals that a few Germans played a key role in the events leading up to the revolution. They provided money, arms, and leadership that helped the revolution get started. Smith's conclusions are radically different from those in Mark Johnson's Why the Red Revolution? However, Smith's case is [STEP 6] somewhat weakened by an anti-German bias, which was mentioned by two other sources. [STEP 3] Smith addresses himself to the scholar, but the language will be clear to any informed reader. The style is heavily argumentative, with [STEP 5] many footnotes to back up claims. [STEP 2] It is relevant to the research topic, specifically how anarchists played a role in the Russian Revolution. It is especially useful for its information on the action and attitudes of the anarchists. This chapter is cited by other writing about the Revolution, but is considered controversial. 


Step 1: Cite the source properly. Get more information about Citing Sources.

Step 2: Use RADAR: Relevance to explain how this source is related to your topic. Does it answer your research question? What does it add to your research so far?

Step 3: Use RADAR: Rationale to explain who the audience is for this source. What sort of language is used to talk about the topic?

Step 4: Use RADAR: Authority to talk about the author's credentials, affiliation, and relationship to the discipline or topic discussed in the source.

Step 5: Use RADAR: Accuracy to state whether other experts of scholars support this source's claims or not. Is there a shared expert opinion on this source?

Step 6: Use RADAR: Rationale to state whether the source presents obvious bias. Are they implying something not backed by evidence? Do they make statements not clearly linked to the evidence or data presented?