Annotated Bibliography Essentials: Summary Writing -->

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Annotated Bibliography Essentials: Summary Writing

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When it comes to the annotated bibliography, it can feel difficult to know what to include in such a unique assignment. In general, the annotated bibliography does not reflect a typical course paper. Due to the nature of the assignment and limited exemplars in academia, many students tend to feel confused with the annotated bibliography’s structure. The question of whether “am I doing this right?” comes into existence.

Annotated Bibliography Essentials: Summary Writing

As a Writing Instructor here at Walden University’s Writing Center, I come across many annotated bibliographies from students. Time and time again, I see students struggle with the annotated bibliography process, specifically summary writing for each source. Most students understand the basic rules of summary writing, such as writing the summary in your own words and writing the summary in the past tense (e.g., “The authors found that…”). However, summary writing is more than just covering the basics.

I tend to see summaries with missing pieces or perhaps summaries that are too vague. After years of reading annotated bibliographies, I noticed that students are unclear on the best practices in summary writing for sources.
So, here are three best practices when it comes to summary writing for sources in your annotated bibliography.

What did the author do?
For each source, take your time to read the content. As you read each source, it is crucial to locate the author’s actions in the source. What exactly did the author do in the article? Perhaps the author conducted specific research related to a topic. It is important to capture the author’s actions and begin your summary with this specific information. As a result, the answer to “what did the author do?” will create a strong foundation for your summary.

Why did the author do that?
Next, it is essential to determine why the author took a particular action in the source. In other words, you want the reader to understand why the author conducted the research. The answer to this question will unfold a series of reasons on the significance of the source, which will essentially establish a clear connection to the purpose of the source in your annotated bibliography.

What did the author find?
Finally, every summary should include the author’s findings. Overall, the author’s findings serve a unique purpose in your annotated bibliography. It allows you to share the importance of using the source because of the author’s findings. With such important information, you can use the author’s findings to establish the application of the sources later in the annotated bibliography.

Summary writing for an annotated bibliography can feel confusing at times, but it does not have to be that way. In addition to this post, I recommend checking out our overview of summary writing webpage. Then, when you are ready, I encourage you to share your annotated bibliography with any of our Writing Instructors in a paper review session. Click Paper Review Appointment to make an appointment today and receive useful feedback to strengthen your summary writing.

If you're curious to learn more, click here to view all of the posts in this five-part series on Annotated Bibliography Essentials!

The Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center creates content to help students with a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. We host webinars, and offer paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast. You can check out all of our resources by visiting our Walden University Writing Center home page.

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