Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography.
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
Frequently asked questions: Dissertation
Dissertation word counts vary widely across different fields, institutions, and levels of education:
- An undergraduate dissertation is typically 8,000–15,000 words
- A master’s dissertation is typically 12,000–50,000 words
- A PhD thesis is typically book-length: 70,000–100,000 words
However, none of these are strict guidelines – your word count may be lower or higher than the numbers stated here. Always check the guidelines provided by your university to determine how long your own dissertation should be.
A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.
It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.
Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.
All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
A theoretical framework can sometimes be integrated into a literature review chapter , but it can also be included as its own chapter or section in your dissertation . As a rule of thumb, if your research involves dealing with a lot of complex theories, it’s a good idea to include a separate theoretical framework chapter.
A literature review and a theoretical framework are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work, a literature review critically evaluates existing research relating to your topic. You’ll likely need both in your dissertation .
While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on existing research, a conceptual framework allows you to draw your own conclusions, mapping out the variables you may use in your study and the interplay between them.
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
In most styles, the title page is used purely to provide information and doesn’t include any images. Ask your supervisor if you are allowed to include an image on the title page before doing so. If you do decide to include one, make sure to check whether you need permission from the creator of the image.
Include a note directly beneath the image acknowledging where it comes from, beginning with the word “ Note .” (italicized and followed by a period). Include a citation and copyright attribution . Don’t title, number, or label the image as a figure , since it doesn’t appear in your main text.
Definitional terms often fall into the category of common knowledge , meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be cited. This guidance can apply to your thesis or dissertation glossary as well.
However, if you’d prefer to cite your sources , you can follow guidance for citing dictionary entries in MLA or APA style for your glossary.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, an index is a list of the contents of your work organized by page number.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation should include your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date.
Glossaries are not mandatory, but if you use a lot of technical or field-specific terms, it may improve readability to add one to your thesis or dissertation. Your educational institution may also require them, so be sure to check their specific guidelines.
A glossary or “glossary of terms” is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. Your glossary only needs to include terms that your reader may not be familiar with, and is intended to enhance their understanding of your work.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, dictionaries are more general collections of words.
An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Dr. for Doctor. In contrast, an acronym uses the first letter of each word to create a wholly new word, such as UNESCO (an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
As a rule of thumb, write the explanation in full the first time you use an acronym or abbreviation. You can then proceed with the shortened version. However, if the abbreviation is very common (like PC, USA, or DNA), then you can use the abbreviated version from the get-go.
Be sure to add each abbreviation in your list of abbreviations !
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
A list of abbreviations is a list of all the abbreviations that you used in your thesis or dissertation. It should appear at the beginning of your document, with items in alphabetical order, just after your table of contents .
Your list of tables and figures should go directly after your table of contents in your thesis or dissertation.
Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and aren’t particularly common. They specifically aren’t required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables .
If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organized. Your educational institution may require them, so be sure to check their guidelines.
A list of figures and tables compiles all of the figures and tables that you used in your thesis or dissertation and displays them with the page number where they can be found.
The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction .
You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.
In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:
- Your interpretations : what do the results tell us?
- The implications : why do the results matter?
- The limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?
The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.
In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.
Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.
The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.
In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:
- The type of analysis used
- Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
- Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported
In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:
- Recurring patterns
- Significant or representative individual responses
- Relevant quotations from the data
Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.
To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:
- Apply heading styles throughout the document.
- In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
- Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.
Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.
All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.
The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .
Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.
The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.
The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis , directly after the title page and before the abstract .
Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.
In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.
Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.
Ask our team
Want to contact us directly? No problem. We are always here for you.
- Email [email protected]
- Start live chat
- Call +1 (510) 822-8066
- WhatsApp +31 20 261 6040
Our team helps students graduate by offering:
- A world-class citation generator
- Plagiarism Checker software powered by Turnitin
- Innovative Citation Checker software
- Professional proofreading services
- Over 300 helpful articles about academic writing, citing sources, plagiarism, and more
Scribbr specializes in editing study-related documents . We proofread:
- PhD dissertations
- Research proposals
- Personal statements
- Admission essays
- Motivation letters
- Reflection papers
- Journal articles
- Capstone projects
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker is powered by elements of Turnitin’s Similarity Checker , namely the plagiarism detection software and the Internet Archive and Premium Scholarly Publications content databases .
The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.
You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .
Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.
Chapter 5: The Literature Review
5.6 The Difference Between a Literature Review and an Annotated Bibliography
An annotated bibliography is a third type of academic writing that can confuse students who are attempting to write a literature review. An annotated bibliography provides all of the reference details of a bibliography, but it goes one step further and provides a short (approximately 150 words) description of the reference. An annotated bibliography is not to be confused with a bibliography, which is a list of journal articles, books, and other resources that someone has utilized in writing. The bibliography provides a list of all resources that someone used to write a research paper and, unlike a reference list, includes references that may not appear in the body of the paper. No doubt you have had to create many bibliographies in your academic studies. Here is a link to a website where you can learn more about annotated bibliographies and also to see a sample of an annotated bibliography: Annotated Bibliographies
Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introduction by Valerie Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
Share This Book
- Search Website
- Office Directory
- Employee Directory
- Learning Commons
- Topic Sentences
Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review
What's the big deal.
There are fundamental differences between an annotated bibliography and a literature review that are crucial to completing the assignment correctly. The chart below is provides an overview of the biggest differences between the two types of assignments in a side-by-side comparison. However, if you need more specific information about either assignment, visit our Annotated Bibliography and/or Literature Review pages for more detailed information on how to complete them.
Differences between an annotated bibliography and literature review
IST 210 - Research Design: Brief Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies
- Find Secondary Sources - Articles
- Find Secondary Sources - Books
- Find Primary Sources
- Brief Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies
- Brief Introduction to Literature Reviews
A Brief Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies
What is an annotated bibliography.
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
What is the difference between an annotated bibliography and...
...the bibliography I normally put at the end of my research papers?
The bibliography you put at the end of your research papers is a list of citations, with no annotations, and it is included in your research for the purpose of giving credit to your sources of information. An annotated bibliography contains descriptions of each citation and its purpose is to make it easier for other researchers to identify useful articles.
....an abstract of a paper?
Abstracts are the descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Like the annotations in an annotated bibliography, abstracts serve the purpose of helping researchers identify useful sources. But abstracts are often longer than the annotations in annotated bibliographies. Also, they are purely descriptive and do not offer any analysis of the work they describe. Annotations are descriptive and critical. They may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.
Why should I write and annotated bibliography?
To learn more about your research topic
One of the mistakes new researchers (students) often make is to draw a conclusion and then set off to find the research to support it. This approach is backwards. Researchers should investigate a topic thoroughly first. Through thorough investigation, researchers will identify gaps in the research, errors in assumptions or other new directions that they can pursue. Creating an annotated bibliography supports this approach to research. Writing an annotated bibliography encourages you to:
- read extensively on your topic
- read your sources more carefully/closely
- read your sources more critically
- formulate ideas on what new approaches you might take to research your topic
To help other researchers
A well-written annotated bibliography is worthy of publication on its own merits, if no current annotated bibliography on the topic exists. Researchers use annotated bibliographies to identify sources that will be useful to their current study. A good annotated bibliography can be a gold mine of time-saving information!
What should an annotated bibliography contain?
That depends on what types of annotated bibliography you have been asked to write.
Summative annotated bibliographies include:
- Bibliographical citations according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
- An explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work--an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and the resulting conclusion.
- A discussion of the qualifications of the author and the methodology of the study.
Critical/evaluative annotated bibliographies include all the elements of a summative annotated bibliography, but they also offer an analysis of the work cited. The analysis might include:
- Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
- Identification of the intended audience of the work
- Examination of the work's objectivity or biases, adequate use of evidence, and methodology.
They may also:
- show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
- explain how researching this material assisted your own project.
Samples of annotated bibliographies
Summative sample (APA style)
Critical sample (APA style)
- << Previous: Find Primary Sources
- Next: Brief Introduction to Literature Reviews >>
- Last Updated: Oct 12, 2023 10:11 AM
- URL: https://library.centre.edu/IST210
News & Blog
Research Tips Thursday: Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review
Fuzzy on the difference between an annotated bibliography and a literature review? This tip will clear up the differences.
Check out our guide for past videos and upcoming topics: guides.ucf.edu/rtt
Comments are closed.
Keep up-to-date on postgraduate related issues with our quick reads written by students, postdocs, professors and industry leaders.
Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review
- By Prof M Lambert
- November 12, 2020
If you’re undertaking a research project or writing a thesis in the US, be it at undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD level, you may be wondering what the difference between an annotated bibliography and a literature review is.
Both are important sections of a research paper and aim to give context to the sources cited around a particular research problem. A literature review places a stronger emphasis on the importance of the findings of a paper, whilst an annotated bibliography focuses on the quality, validity, and relevance of the source of information itself.
What is a Literature Review?
A literature review summarises the research findings of others in a specific topic (this can be from a range of publications including scholarly journal articles, textbooks, interviews, and magazines), critically appraises their work, and uses this information to develop the research project at hand. The purpose of this section is also to identify any gaps in knowledge that exist in the research topic and how your research project can help address them. The literature review also allows you to question the research carried out, for example: does one author’s argument conflict with another’s?, or are a particular author’s conclusions valid?
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
Firstly, a bibliography is the list of sources referred to in a body of work. You should be familiar with this for any essay you have written – think of the APA style references you normally include. This includes important information about the source such as the author name, document title, date of publication, and page number (if applicable). The exact information differs depending on the source type – for example, a scholarly journal article may require a DOI ( Digital Object Identifier ) to be included in the citation, whilst a website will require a URL. The bibliography has several uses, primarily it serves as a reference point for readers who wish to read further into the statements made in a body of work. It also allows readers to question statements and verify the information provided in the body of work.
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources used in your body of work, which includes a brief summary for each source. These summary annotations evaluate the sources of information with regards to their accuracy and quality and identify any potential reasons for bias. As with a standard bibliography, an annotated bibliography should present sources alphabetically in a list-style format. The source summaries are typically around 150 words, though this can vary depending on the nature of the source.
Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review – What are the differences?
The literature review is presented in a more conversational tone (essay format), as it looks to relate the findings of the source to the research question under review. In comparison, the annotated bibliography is much more structured and factual. It may evaluate sources that only have an indirect relevance to the current project.
Another difference is the length. As mentioned earlier, the annotation summaries are around 150 words per source. The literature review, on the other hand, is typically somewhere between 6,000 – 12,000 words. This reinforces the fact that the annotated bibliography is a concise assessment of the source, whilst the literature review is a comprehensive appraisal of the current knowledge and contributions around a particular topic. For example, the annotated bibliography may comment on a research paper which conducted a similar study and note information such as the scale of the experiments, how they were conducted, and which parameters were controlled. In the literature review this same source of information may be discussed further: what were the limitations of this type of experiment, how does the methodology compare to other studies, do the findings support your argument, and was the scale big enough to draw valid conclusions.
Students preparing a dissertation or thesis should use their annotation summaries to help develop their literary review. This can be done by using the information provided in the bibliography as a reference point to help paint the bigger picture in the literature review.
The scope and delimitations of a thesis, dissertation or paper define the topic and boundaries of a research problem – learn how to form them.
There are various types of research that are classified by objective, depth of study, analysed data and the time required to study the phenomenon etc.
The term monotonic relationship is a statistical definition that is used to describe the link between two variables.
Join thousands of other students and stay up to date with the latest PhD programmes, funding opportunities and advice.
Browse PhDs Now
This post explains where and how to write the list of figures in your thesis or dissertation.
Learn 10 ways to impress a PhD supervisor for increasing your chances of securing a project, developing a great working relationship and more.
Dr Ilesanmi has a PhD in Applied Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. He is now a lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at the Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
Dr Norman gained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of East Anglia in 2018. He is now the Public Engagement Officer at the Babraham Institute.
Join Thousands of Students
APA Guide - 7th Edition: Annotated Bibliographies
- What's New in the 7th Edition?
- Paper Formatting
- Reference Components
- In-Text Citations
- Book Examples
- Article Examples
- Media Examples
- Internet Resources Examples
- Other Examples
- Annotated Bibliographies
An annotated bibliography is a type of student paper in which reference list entries are followed by short descriptions of the work, called annotations. Annotated bibliographies can also constitute one element of a research paper in fields that require bibliographies rather than reference lists. Most APA Style guidelines are applicable to annotated bibliographies (margins, font, line spacing, etc.).
In general, it is not necessary to cite the work being annotated in the annotations because the origin of the information is clear through context. However, do include in-text citations if you refer to multiple works within an annotation to clarify the source.
Examples & Templates
- Annotated Bibliography Sample from APA Manual
- Annotated Bib Template_Includes Title Page
- How to Create an Annotated Bibliography
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
What is an Annotated Bibliography? by OWLPurdue on YouTube
- Purdue OWL Definitions, formatting, examples, & samples.
- Writing an Annotated Bibliography General guide from the University of Guelph. Overview and examples.
An evaluative annotation includes a summary but also critically assesses the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. The focus is on description and evaluation.
They can help you:
- learn about your topic
- develop a thesis statement
- decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment
- determine if there is enough valid information available to complete your project.
Basic Writing & Format Tips
Basic Writing and Format Tips:
- Start with the same format as a regular References list.
- After each citation, the annotation is indented two spaces from the left margin as a block.
- Each annotation should be one paragraph, between three to six sentences long (about 150-200 words).
- All lines should be double-spaced. Do not add an extra line between the citations.
- If your list of citations is especially long, you can organize it by topic.
- Try to be objective, and give explanations if you state any opinions.
- Use the third person (e.g., he, she, the author) instead of the first person (e.g., I, my, me).
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or critical evaluation of each of the sources. The annotated bibliography looks like a References page but includes an annotation after each full citation.
Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself.
Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:
- Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What topics are covered? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is. Who wrote the document? When and where was the document written?
- After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other soruces in your biliography? What is the goal of this source?
- Once you've summarized and assessed a source, ask yourself how it fits into your research. How does it help shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project?
Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.
- << Previous: Other Examples
- Last Updated: Aug 29, 2023 9:27 AM
- URL: https://felician.libguides.com/APA7