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Literature Review In Research An Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review.

Have you ever written an essay, a research paper, or a thesis?  If you have, then you must be familiar with what an annotated bibliography is and how to create and use it.  It will also follow that you will have experienced writing a literary review too.  Both are important parts of any thesis or research paper.

While both provide summaries of a specific topic, its content and sources, they differ in the way that these facts are presented.  Both the literary review and annotated bibliography can be about any topic, but literature reviews are usually made with the purpose of answering a particular question about a particular subject while annotated bibliographies are about the importance of the sources of information.

Every essay, research paper, or thesis contains a bibliography.  It is meant to let the people reading the essay know where you obtained the information stated in it and to check and verify the facts that are included therein.  It will also support the conclusions that you have made about a certain topic.

A bibliography contains the name of the author, title of the document, article, or book, date of publication, place of publication, publishing company, volume number, and the page number.  In the case of an online source, the name of the author and editor should be placed together with the URL and the last date that you visited the site.

In many cases, a simple bibliography will not do and you will be required to make an annotated bibliography; that is, a bibliography with annotations.  Annotations are brief summaries, evaluation, and analysis of the content included in your essay and about its sources of information.

An annotated bibliography therefore is an alphabetical list of all the sources of information that you have gathered and used in your essay together with 100-200 word descriptions of each source.  This will inform the readers of the accuracy, relevance, and quality of the sources of information that you have gathered.  It is simply a list of all the sources of information that you have included in your work with a short assessment of each source.

A literary review on the other hand is an essay in itself.  It serves as a guide to a specific topic.  It gives an overview of the topic, evaluates its sources and advices the readers as to what is admissible and important.  It can contain several sections or segments, each with a different subject or argument about the topic.  The arguments can either be contrary or similar to your analysis or thesis.

Literary reviews are meant to summarize and evaluate already published arguments about a certain topic.  It analyzes these arguments, revealing their regularities as well as the irregularities that are present.

Although the scope of literary reviews varies, literary reviews are oftentimes products of annotated bibliographies, providing a story-like use of the references cited in the annotated bibliography.  A good literary review is one which is derived from a good annotated bibliography and every literary review must always come with an annotated bibliography.

1. A literary review is a summary about a specific topic while an annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of the sources of information for the topic with a brief summary and analysis.
2. While an annotated bibliography contains facts about the sources of information, the literary review contains a summary, evaluation, and analysis of a particular topic or argument.
3. The annotated bibliography informs readers about the accuracy, relevance and quality of the source while the literary review informs the readers about the topic’s pros and cons and how the author’s insights differ from, and conform to, previous arguments about it.
4. The literary review mostly comes from an annotated bibliography but unlike it, it can be a literary work by itself.

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science has these definitions:

"A literature review is a text written by someone to consider the critical points of current knowledge. A comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works."

An annotated bibliography is "a brief explanatory or evaluative note is added to each reference or citation. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry."

While a literature review and annotated bibliography share some similarities, they serve different purposes. A literature review answers a particular question about a particular subject (primarily:  what does the existing scholarly research have to say about my topic?). An annotated bibliography, by contrast, is more focused on the content and contribution of each individual source (and showcases your understanding of each).

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