Writing the annotation - Summary
The annotation may include one or more of the following components:
- summary or description of the source
- evaluation and analysis of the study
- reflection on its usefulness to your research
Remember, what is included in the annotation depends on what your lecturer specifically asks for, so read the instructions carefully!
Writing a summary
The first part of an annotation is usually a summary or description of the text. This involves briefly outlining the author’s main points, as well as providing an overview of the approach or methodology they have used.
As you read each source, focus on understanding the main ideas. Take notes on the following questions, in your own words, and this will then form the basis of your summary:
- What was the aim of the research?
- What research methodologies have been used? (i.e. How was the research conducted? What methods of collecting and analysing data were used?)
- What are the main arguments or research findings?
- What is the scope of the research? (i.e. What is included in the research and what is left out? What are the limitations of the research?)
- What evidence is being used to support the conclusions?
- Why was the research done? What issues were addressed?
- If appropriate to your subject area, are there any quotations that summarise the main argument?
Another way of tackling summaries is the 5WH approach:
Note that you don’t need to summarise everything in your annotated bibliography. It will usually comprise a single coherent paragraph, but sometimes you will be asked to provide a shorter summary in just one or two sentences. The information you include will depend on what you’ve been asked to do, and the purpose of the task.
The summary or description may look something like the following example (see below in bold). Note that the length of each is different because each entry was written to meet different requirements.
Sarkar, S. (2007). Potential of kefir as a dietetic beverage: a review. British Food Journal, 109(4), 280-290. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070700710736534
Sarkar (2007) examined the literature in order to determine the nutritional characteristics of kefir, as well as its potential to offer positive health benefits.
Goldthwaite, Richard, ‘The Florentine Palace as Domestic Architecture’, The American Historical Review, 77 (1972), 977-1012.
This article focuses on ‘domestic architecture’ in fifteenth-century Florence, namely the numerous palaces built in this period by the patriciate. Goldthwaite argues that a shift took place in the style of architecture during this period as a result of increasing individualism within society, and the breakdown of traditional family structures.
Moreira, A., Diógenes, M. J., de Menonça, A., Nuno, L. and Barros, H. (2016) Chocolate consumption is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 53, 85-93. doi: 10.3233/JAD-160142
Cocoa and chocolate products have been claimed to have a number of health benefits, including on cognitive health. Moreira et al. (2016) explored the relationship between cognitive decline and chocolate consumption among 309 older people (age ≥ 65 years at commencement of study). Baseline, and follow-up (at between 2 and 9 years after baseline) data were collected for each participant through individual interviews, as well as medical examinations. Two validated tools were used in data collection: the Frequent Food Questionnaire was used to determine consumption of chocolate bars, snacks and cocoa powder over a year prior to baseline. The mini-mental state examination (MMSE) tool was used to determine cognitive function, including measure of attention, recall and language. It was found that one third of participants experienced some cognitive decline (defined as a decrease of 2 or less in MMSE score), but very few reached levels of cognitive impairment (decrease of more than 2 points in MMSE score). Detailed statistical analysis suggested that those participants with some chocolate consumption (less than one standard portion per week) had a relative risk of cognitive decline 40% lower than those who did not consume chocolate.