An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of books, articles and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, i.e. the annotation. A descriptive annotation summarises the scope and content of a work, while an evaluative annotation provides critical comment. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy and quality of the sources cited. Annotations are not abstracts. Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are both descriptive and critical; they explain the author’s point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression and authority.

Use the Paulian Framework for critical thinking to write your annotations. See the questions below:


  • What is the main purpose of this article? (What is the author trying to accomplish?)
  • The key question that the author is addressing is … (What is the key question addressed in this article?)
  • The most important information in this article is … (Search for facts, experiences and/or data the author uses to support his/her conclusions.)
  • The main inferences in this article are … (Identify the most important conclusions the author draws and presents in the article.)
  • The key concept(s) one needs to understand in this article is (are) … (What are the most important ideas that one would have to know to understand the author’s line of reasoning?)
  • The main assumption(s) underlying the author’s thinking is (are) …? (What does the author take for granted [that might be questioned]?
  • If I accept this line of reasoning (completely or partially), the implications are …? (What consequences are likely to follow if I take the author’s line of reasoning seriously?)
  • If I fail to accept this line of reasoning, the implications are …? (What consequences are likely to follow if I ignore the author’s reasoning?)
  • The main point of view presented in this article is … (What is the author focusing on, and how does he/she view/approach it?)


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