Annotated Bibliography

The research required for your annotations will refine your skills performing college-level scholarly investigation, familiarize you with the most common print and online tools available at Wooster, and give you practice evaluating authors’ use of sources and point of view when compiling evidence for your project. I also want you to think about how the information available through different formats compares and what historians need to take into account when evaluating sources. Your annotations should present a picture of the current scholarly literature. An understanding of how other researchers have approached your question – including those who disagree with your conclusions – is essential to presenting a well-considered and balanced argument.

You may research any aspect of Latin America’s relations with the United States for this project. This research should provide the background to orient your two research projects: the Wikipedia Article, and your Research Paper.

Annotated Bibliographies:

Annotations are brief (estimated 150-200 word) entries that contain one or two sentences summarizing content followed by a few sentences presenting your evaluation of the work. Annotations should provide sufficient information so that a reader may decide whether or not to read the work itself. They clarify the relationship between different sources by differentiating their arguments, use of evidence, conclusions, and biases. They also allow your reader to assess your use of sources and evidence in supporting your argument.

The following 7 points provide guidance for writing an annotation:

  1. Proper citation. For History, you’ll use Chicago style Bibliography format for your entries.
  2. The authority and the qualifications of the author should be clearly stated. Preferably this is to be done early in the annotation: “John Z. Schmidt, a Russian history professor at Princeton University, based his research on recently discovered census records.”
  3. The scope, argument, and evidence used must be explained. This is usually done in two to three short sentences.
  4. The audience should be indicated: “Schmidt addresses himself to the scholar, but the concluding chapters will be clear to any informed layman.” This is not always present in an annotation but is important if the work is targeted to a specific audience.
  5. Discuss the author’s assumptions and approach, along with any cautions the reader should keep in mind in evaluating the text. This might include characteristics that identify the source’s perspective, such as funding source, author’s affiliation, etc. “The article was published in Mother Jones, a magazine known for its left-leaning political perspective.”
  6. Explain how the argument relates to other key sources in the field. Make sure to indicate any shared ideas or disagreements you see between your sources.
  7. Annotation concludes with a summary comment: “Schmidt’s study sheds light on my research question by showing…”

Source Selection:

For this assignment, your bibliography must include annotations for at least eight secondary sources and at least two primary sources. Make sure that they are all high quality, pertinent sources.  You’ll be evaluated on variety and quality of your sources as well as your annotations.

Your secondary sources must include at least one example from each of the following categories:

  • an article from a history journal
  • an article from the Journal of Latin American Studies, the Hispanic American Historical Review, or Americas.
  • a scholarly book (published by a University Press)
  • a reputable website (not an electronic journal or book)

Please check with me if you are not certain if your sources fit in these categories.

Remember, you need to read the source carefully to write a successful research annotation.

Annotated Bibliography Rubric

Important Dates:

Librarian Denise Monbarren will lead our Writing Workshop on library research techniques Monday, February 20 in the McCoy Lab (L1 floor of Andrews Library). This workshop will help you gain familiarity with some of the most important databases for historical research.

We will go over some additional online primary source resources for Latin American and Latin@ history in class on Wednesday, February 15.

A preliminary list of five scholarly sources should be posted to your Wikipedia Sandbox before class on Wednesday, February 22.

A first draft of two annotated bibliography entries (one for a primary source and one for a secondary source) should be posted to your Writing & Research Blog by 8pm on Thursday, February 23.

Your final annotated bibliography is due by 4pm on Friday, March 3.  Please upload your assignment as a pdf file to our course Moodle site. This assignment is worth 10% of your course grade.  Annotated Bibliography Rubric LAUS SP17

You are encouraged to consult reference librarians or the Writing Center at any stage of this project.


  • As a header on the first page, give your name, the class name, the assignment title, and the date.
  • Before your annotations: 1. Clearly and concisely state your research question. What are you investigating, and why is it important?  2. Why are these sources the best sources for your project?  How did you decide which sources to cut?
  • References are separated into Primary and Secondary sources and then listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. Single space the bibliography and the annotations, but leave an extra line between each entry.   Each annotation follows immediately below its bibliographic entry, and is indented for greater readability.
  • Remember to use the Chicago style Bibliography format for your entries. See Rampolla’s Pocket Guide to Writing in History.