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Evaluative Annotation - MLA: Evaluative Annotated Bibliography - Example

What is an evaluative annotation?

bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.

    For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.

  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?

    For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources.

  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

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.




Morgan, Susan. “Intelligence in 'Pride and Prejudice.'” Modern Philology, vol. 73, no. 1, 1975, pp. 54-

            68. JSTOR, 


This article discusses the themes of freedom and intelligence juxtaposed within Elizabeth throughout the novel. The basic premise of this article is that Elizabeth is trapped in the social game of criticism and cynicism, taught to her by her father. She engages with her society on a shallow level, but she does not make any attempt to understand the nuances or complexities of human behavior; instead she maintains her distance and laughs. In her trajectory of growth within the novel, Morgan notes that Elizabeth must become aware of the way her shallow, negatively amused interpretation of the world limits her understanding. Jane is established as a character who defies reader expectations as a strong character through her own self-awareness of her inability to know the full extent of the society and to willingly engage with the content to achieve understanding. This article regularly refers to other authors who wrote on Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice specifically, but also academics on Regency era etiquette, politics, and social order, using the citations to bring forth support or potential arguments addressed and knocked down within the confines of the article. Overall the topic presentation is strong with a plethora of textual examples and scholarly references; it introduces the important aspect of growth and reflection that Elizabeth needs to undergo to realize her happy ending; she must step away from society to understand how to fully engage with it, instead of sitting back passively and laughing in isolated cynicism. This argument contributes to my idea that Elizabeth needs to be removed from the influences of her current society to accomplish this growth.


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.