How to Write a Critical Annotation

An annotated bibliography is a list of publications, systematically arranged, and including a descriptive account of the contents and themes of each item. A critical annotation is more than a summary; it also evaluates the material in terms of its usefulness and quality.

CONTENTS

AUTHORITY

PURPOSE

AUDIENCE

CONTEXT

DESIGN

RESULTS

CONCLUSIONS

EXTRAS

WRITING A CRITICAL ANNOTATION

The following is a systematic way of evaluating what you read. The questions apply to most types of literature (books, journal articles, or government publications and virtually all subjects. Not all the questions will be easily answered in every case, but keeping them in mind as you read will put you well on your way toward a critical analysis of the publication.

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Authority

Who is the author? Is the author qualified to write on the subject? What is the author's education, occupation, title, experience etc? What type of journal is the article published in? (ie: popular magazine or scholarly journal).

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Purpose

What is the purpose for writing the article or for doing the research?

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Audience

What type of audience is the author writing to? (ie: general public, scholars, policy makers, professionals, teachers, practitioners etc.) Is this reflected in the author's style of writing or language?

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Context

Does the author make any assumption or express any biases which affect the rationale of the publication? Are there specific studies, schools of thought or philosophies with which this one agrees or disagrees?

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Design

How was the study designed? What method was used to obtain data or conduct research? (ie: personal opinion or experience, interviews, questionnaires, library research, laboratory experiments, case studies, etc.) Is it appropriate? Are the measures used in the study explained? Could someone else repeat the study given the information in the publication?

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Results

What conclusions does the author arrive at? Is it a clear, appropriate and reliable analysis of the data? Are unexpected results, reservations, or limitations of the study design discussed?

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Conclusions

Are the conclusions supported by the data? How does this study compare with similar studies? Does the study offer important practice or theory for the future?

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Extras

Are there attachments or appendixes such as maps, charts, bibliographies, tests or questionnaires? If not, should there be?



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 Content Revised: February 25, 2010


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