Why should I write an annotated bibliography?
To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.
To help other researchers: Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.
So - you've taken your research question and turned it into a hypothesis, and you need to now create an annotated bibliography. But wait - - what exactly does that mean???
Bibliography = list of sources you've used in your research
Annotation = summary or evaluation
When you create an annotated bibliography, you are essentially creating a formal list of the sources you used in your research, and aren't just listing them out, you are also providing valuable information about each source. In a paragraph below each citation you provide information about that source including a basic summary of the information covered within (what are the main points or arguments?), an assessment of that source (is it useful? it is the most useful article you found on that topic, or was only part of it helpful? did the authors leave out anything major? were they obviously biased?) and your own reflection about how this source helped or fit into your own research (how was it helpful to you? how can you use this source in your own research? did what you read change the focus or direction you were originally thinking you would go?)
Primo, A.L., S.C. Marques, J. Falcao, D. Crespo, M.A. Pardal, and U.M. Azeiteiro. 2012. Environmental forcing on jellyfish communities in a small temperate estuary. Marine Environmental Research. 79: 152-159.
In this article, the authors look at several variables on jellyfish that live in the Mondego estuary. Over seven years they took into consideration the impacts that biological, hydrodynamic, and large-scale climactic variables had through the collection of plankton samples. Two jellyfishes species were generally collected - Siphonophora Muggiaea atlantica and Diphyes spp. Estuarine salinity, runoff, and sea-surface temperature were the three major environmental factors that influenced these two species. It was found that temperature both directly and indirectly influenced the community and flucation of jellyfish blooms. I found this article to be a throrough examination of the impact of several varaibles in a small estuary, and as such to be extremely valuable to my research related to temperature effects on jellyfish larvae in the Chesapeake Bay.