Annotated Bibliography Assignment and Rubric


What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography can help you prepare for writing a research paper and is a useful tool in conducting research.  An annotated bibliography combines the citations found in the References list at the end of documents in APA format with annotations about each of the sources.


Annotated Bibliography Assignment

Purpose:  An annotated bibliography is an organizing tool that is helpful when working on a research project.  An effective annotated bibliography is used to compile research sources in one location and provide the researcher with quick access to the information contained in each source.

Content/Subject: Your annotated bibliography will consist of the sources that you have deemed relevant to your topic and/or research question(s).  You may encounter sources that are not relevant or do not fit the scope of your project while researching, and for the purposes of this assignment, you will only include the ones that you find useful and relevant.

  1. Cite the source in proper APA format.  The citations should be organized in alphabetical order by author just as in an APA References page.
  2. Follow with a brief annotation that summarizes the source (approx. 3-5 sentences). You may quote from the source, but do not copy and paste the abstract. Ideally, all of the annotation should be in your own words.
  3. In 1 or 2 sentences, explain the source’s relevance and importance to your issue.   

Constraints:  The annotated bibliography is a fairly rigid genre.  Your citations must adhere to APA format. For guidance on proper APA citations for an annotated bibliography visit this Purdue OWL tutorial. This will be one of the central components of the grade for this assignment.  Failure to follow APA format exactly will harm your grade.

The annotations for each source should follow an academic style.  This means that you must construct, with elevated and sophisticated language, correct grammatical sentences that effectively summarize what each source has to say.  Additionally, you should explain how each source is relevant to the issue that you have selected and what it adds to your knowledge about your issue.

Specific guidelines to follow when completing this assignment are:

  • 7-10 sources of various types (book, article, website, etc.).
  • Sources focused around a narrowed issue or question of inquiry.
  • Adherence to APA format for all citations.
  • Sources in alphabetical order according to author.
  • Thoughtful and complete annotations of 100-150 words.
  • Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.


Notes for Faculty

While research publications, such as World Cat and JSTOR, are very useful, it may be difficult for entry-level students to adequately digest and synthesize information. Guiding students on how to effectively read  article abstracts and research articles is essential for them to determine relevance and analyze the main arguments and findings.

How to incorporate an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography focuses on getting students to read research articles, organize their findings, and report out. You may choose to assign the students a specific topic to research and then take a stance for an in-class debate.  In the example, students must research the impacts around raising or maintaining the minimum wage, and based on their research take a stance.  However, you may want your students to research a topic of interest.  Or organize research articles that support a new policy or action recommendation or proposal, such as the impacts of adding more parking spaces instead over a green space.

Sample Assignment (PDF attachment below)

Assignment Example for ECON 202 (Microeconomics at Ivy Tech) developed in collaboration with instructor Matt Fisher. 

Annotated Bibliography Rubric (PDF attachment below)

This is a sample rubric that can be used to evaluate annotated bibliography assignments.





Quantity of sources

(10 points)

Required number of sources (10), all scholarly primary or secondary sources; no more than one tertiary source.

Required number of sources (10), over half scholarly primary or secondary sources (or primary sources; no more than two tertiary sources.

Fewer than required number of sources (less than 10), only one or two scholarly primary or secondary sources; several tertiary or irrelevant sources.

Quality & reliability of sources

(15 points)

Annotation shows careful reading and clear understanding of source content, quality, and relevance.

Annotation shows reading and understanding of source content, quality, and relevance, with weaknesses or omissions in no more than one or two entries.

Annotation shows superficial or no reading and understanding of source content, quality, and relevance, with weaknesses or omissions in most entries.

Variety of sources

(20 points)

You select a variety of research sources and they are all written at the appropriate level for this project’s purpose.

The sources you select are less varied, but most are written at the appropriate level for this project’s purpose.

You select mostly one source type (i.e., Internet sites, books, etc.) and none are written at the appropriate level for this project’s purpose.

Writing fluency of annotations

(25 points)

You clearly summarize the main idea of each of your sources and can make an explicit connection to your argument.

You clearly summarize the main idea of each of your sources, but their connection to your argument is less apparent.

You try to summarize your sources, but have trouble focusing on the main idea. You make no attempt to connect your sources to your argument.

APA and documentation

(25 points)

You correctly cite at least ten sources using the APA citation style described in class.

You cite at least eight sources and try to use the APA citation style described in class, but have some difficulty.

You cite fewer than five sources using your own citation style and manage to be fairly consistent.


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