Skip to Main Content

MUSIC 310: Intro to World Music

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic, along with short summaries or commentaries on each source. The annotated bibliography looks like a Reference List but includes an explanation or "annotation" after each source cited. An annotation can include a short summary, focused on the most relevant parts of the source, and/or evaluation of the source in terms of its relevance or relationship to other sources. For example:

Tallotte, William. 2018. "Improvisation as Devotion: Nāgasvaram Music and Ritual Communication in Hindu Temple Festival Processions. Ethnomusicology Forum 27:1 (2018): 88-108. doi:10.1080/17411912.2018.1471357

The ālāpana is an unmetered and improvisational genre of music often performed by nāgasvaram ensembles in South Indian Hindu temple festivals. The flexible and improvisational character of the music is important to its use in temple processions because it is seen as providing communication between the musicians and the gods. It also encourages worshipers to be attentive and to have emotional responses. 

Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself. As a step in a research project, annotated bibliographies allow you to pull together what you've found so far and communicate that with your instructors.

They also give you a chance to look at the "big picture" and see the sources you've read in relation to each other. Are there groups of sources that emerge that seem to talk about the same aspect of the topic, or to answer the same research questions? Are there sources that cite each other, build on each other, or even disagree? Taking a step back to look at summaries of many sources alongside each other will help you identify scholarly conversations that are happening around your topic, and to find opportunities to join them.

Citation Formatting

Part of creating an annotated bibliography is writing good citations of all the sources you've used. Citation formatting can seem tricky, but using one style consistently helps your reader understand your use of sources, makes sure you don't miss key information, and helps you communicate with your reader.

Different citation styles are popular in different fields or disciplines, depending on the way that discipline tends to communicate. For this class, you've been asked to use Chicago Author-Date formatting. While this might differ from what you're used to if you've mostly used another style like MLA or Turabian, they really all consist of the same basic information in slightly different formulas. The next page will break down the information types to help you format your citations properly.