Literature Reviews for Public Affairs and Policy: Annotated Bibliographies

Designed as a guide for students in the PAP PhD program.

What is an Annotated Bibliography? from Kimbel Library on Vimeo.

Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography should: 1) Summarize the topic and argument; 2) Assess the strength of the thesis and evidence; 3) Reflect upon the usefulness of the work with relation to your project/topic. Annotated bibliographies are typically 4 to 6 sentences or 150-200 words.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the topic?
  • What is the argument? 
  • What is unique about the argument/article?
  • What are the sources?
  • Who is the author(s) and what is their background?
  • When was this work created?
  • Is the argument convincing?
  • How does this work relate directly to your project? Is it useful to you? 



Template for Assessing Works

Title: Full title of the work

Author: Who are they? Where do they teach? Where did they earn degrees? How does their background impact their scholarship

Publication Information: When was it published? Who published it?

Main Topic and Argument: "In [Title] (Date), [Author] examines [Topic], arguing that [Thesis]. Examining [Sources], [Author] differs from the existing literature by arguing [novel argument]."

Abstract: General overview of the work, no more than four or five sentences. 

Place in the Literature: Who is the author arguing against? Name specific scholars the author argues against. How does their argument differ? How do they come to this different interpretation? Usually it is because they use different sources, but not always.  

Sources or Methods: How did the work's methods or approach impact their findings?

Relationship: How does this work relate to other publications in this field.

Assess: Was their argument convincing?

Additional Web Resources & Examples