Typical Components of the MLA Annotated Bibliography


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Writing an MLA annotated bibliography usually means listing of information sources that you used in your research paper such as:

  • Books;
  • Articles from scientific newspapers and magazines;
  • Websites;
  • Audio and video files;
  • Interviews, and so on.

The sources may be printed or electronic; it is up to you.

The annotated bibliography may also be referred to as works cited or references. Depending on what requirements to your research work are and what instructions you have, the information provided in your annotated bibliography may vary. However, the common components of bibliography are the following:

  • Description of the content
    You need to provide a brief description of what the information source gives info about.
  • Facts about the usefulness and relevance of the source
    You need to write down the reason that proves that the source made a significant contribution not only to your research subject's general area but also to your project specifically.
  • Write what advantages and disadvantages the source has
    Are there any weaknesses that you would like to mention?
  • State the value of the general significance of the source and its reliability
    Here, you need to include the conclusions made by the author of the source and appropriate references, if possible.
  • Show your reaction and attitude to the info source
    Please pay attention. This has to be a reaction to the research work, but not to the author himself.

What's a Purpose

As a rule, the purpose of a typical bibliography is to provide a deep, but a narrow overview of the list of information sources mentioned in your project. However, the general-purpose includes several additional purposes that you can find below:

  • It has to provide a review of the information (including all the above-mentioned possible sources, such as books, articles, websites, etc.) in light of a certain subject of your research paper.
  • It serves to demonstrate the high quality if your project. You can benefit considerably from a good annotated bibliography because it shows your competence and intelligence regarding your research area.
  • It gives concrete examples of possible info sources available for usage.
  • It usually describes some other important issues regarding different issues that can also provoke your potential reader's interest.
  • It shows how the subject of your research area may be explored additionally in case a reader wants to continue his exploration.

An important characteristic of the MLA annotated bibliography is that it needs to be as coherent as possible.
Each annotation that guides a reader through the research has to be a logical line through the research.

What are the types of organizations in the mla annotated bibliography?

Again, this issue depends on the requirements of your annotated bibliography and on the instructions given to you by your professor (if such exist). However, there is still a shortlist of possible ways to organize your bibliography. They are the following:

  • Write the sources following the first letters of the publication or its author.
  • Chronologically ordered annotation may be organized by publication date or according to the historical period of research. It may be a year, era, century, decade, etc.
  • Organizing by subtopic. If there are subtopics in your project and each subtopic has relative information sources, then it is acceptable to organize them in this way.
  • Organizing by formatting style. You can divide your annotated bibliography into sections, each of which would provide sources with different formats: scientific articles, chapters of books, books, web-documents and web-pages, audio-files, and media-files and so on. A well-written annotation enlightens the research project in a historical context.
  • Finally, you can organize your annotated bibliography following the language used in the source.

How to distinguish an annotation from an abstract?

First of all, remember that annotations are known to have two main functions: they provide a brief description of the information source and state the value of the source. Your annotation is a short overview of a certain source, which includes important details and aspects about the source that are not mentioned (or evident) in the source's title. It allows the explorer to state the reliability of a certain book or article used in the research project. Also, the bibliography proves the knowledge of the researcher in a particular field of science and can give him significant advantages. As for the abstracts, they may also be written in scientific articles and research papers, but their main purpose is to provide the work with an understandable summary so the potential reader could understand from the very beginning of the work whether the subject of certain research lies within his area of scientific interest and expertise.
All in all, writing an annotated bibliography will give you a chance to learn more about the subject of your research and to understand whether there can be a place in the history of science for your project. You should take it seriously and be patient when looking for details of the source.

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