Annotated bibliography maker

Referencing on Autopilot: How to Choose the Best Annotated Bibliography Maker

Most students and researchers will avoid using an annotated bibliography maker because they do not understand them. Yet, automated bibliographies are a jewel. This is why.

In the age of automation and computerization, many students still avoid using bibliography makers. While so many programs and applications have been developed and marketed in the last decade, the usage still remains below average. Perhaps one of the reason why students avoid using makers is because they do not understand them. Maybe they once tried to use a substandard maker and were discouraged. Given the accuracy levels of a good annotated bibliography maker, alongside how it helps save time and effort, it is important to understand their usage and characterization. To begin with, what is a bibliography maker?

Understanding an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography refers to any alphabetical listing and succinct summary of peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and documents cited in an academic paper. The listing begins with a full reference of the source (i.e. author, title, year of publication, publisher, and the place of publication for a book), followed by a succinct 150-word descriptive paragraph. The descriptive paragraph evaluates and sums up the reference and is therefore called the annotation, primarily purposed to offer a brief overview of the author’s point of view, relevance of the source, and quality of the academic source.

The annotated bibliography therefore covers only one entry of any academic source cited in a book, or reviewed for subsequent use such as during the creation of a research paper. An annotated bibliography maker therefore, refers to any programing application that computerizes or automates the process of making an annotated bibliography. The maker adds accuracy, speed, precision, and order to the process of creating the bibliography.

It is also important to note that annotated bibliographies differ from abstracts. While abstracts merely provide descriptive summaries of a scholarly journal article, and are often used when indexing periodicals, annotated bibliographies are both critical and descriptive. Unlike abstracts abstract summaries, annotated bibliographies highlight the reliability of the academic source, highlights an author’s pint of view, determines the authority of the source, and makes judgment on relevance and credibility associated with the source.

Given the need to establish relevance and credibility of a source in the annotated bibliography, the student needs a specific subject area or area of interest. Such an area of interest might be the subject of a research paper, or as directed by a course instructor. Once the area of focus is identified, the student can then select relevant academic sources to include in the bibliography, and how to craft the annotation paragraph. At the end of the process, the listing should ascribe to one area of interest, as the core theme of the entire annotated bibliography.   

Process of Creating an Annotated Bibliography

The first step of creating an annotated bibliography is locating each of the academic source used or to be used or cited in a paper. Once the source is located, the next step is to create the reference entry. The format used is determined by the citation style preferred or required, although most annotated bibliography makers use either Harvard or APA citation styles. Ideally therefore, an annotated bibliography should first start as a conventional reference list, before the annotation paragraph is added.

Once the reference format has been created, the next step is to critique the academic source. This paragraph, which constitutes the annotation, should be around 150-words long and should cover several items including:

  • Authors profile, authority and competence (i.e. academic qualification, background, and experience)
  • Former works by the author or authors, if any
  • The target audience of the academic source
  • Core area of interest for the academic source
  • Relevance of the source to the field/discipline under review
  • Relevance of the source to the area of interest
  • Year of publication and contribution to available knowledge
  • Comparative assessment of the source to any other source cited, on the same subject or area of interest

These are the details fed into the annotated bibliography maker, for it to process and or update the bibliography concisely. The automated process helps the student to just feed in the details, and focus on summing up the bibliography instead of the formatting, and is accurately refined for the citation style selected. The automation also avoids instances when an important detail of any source is omitted. Details for each entry can be changed, added to, or even removed thereafter, and the maker makes a real-time adjustment.

Selecting a Good Bibliography Maker

Having understood what an annotated bibliography is, how it is created, and its purpose, it is now important to consider how to select the best annotated bibliography maker among those available today. Once you have understood and used the maker, subsequent usage is relatively easier, faster, and more comprehensive. It all starts with choosing the best maker, and learning how to use one. A good maker is defined by several qualities or features, including:

  • Accuracy
  • Ease of data entry
  • Automated formatting of the bibliography
  • Adoption of a specific and changeable citation style
  • Convenient inclusion into an academic paper in any word processing program as Microsoft Office
  • Possibility to edit, change, and update the annotated bibliography progressively
  • Sustainable and affordable cost of subscription or purchase

You should therefore focus on establishing the accuracy and ease of use for any annotated bibliography maker you choose. Its role, is to provide an easier, automated, and more reliable application, and not to complicate the process. Most libraries in leading universities and colleges are now prescribing or recommending a bibliography maker their students can use, and professors in specific courses will often make recommendations on which maker to use. However, and most importantly, that selection should be the responsibility of the student. The choice should largely be made by the student who will be using the application outside the classroom and or library setting. Now you know how and why to make that decision.  

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