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Annotated Bibliographies: Writing the introduction

Learn how to find and organise the most relevant, most useful and most up-to-date sources for your topic

Why write the intro AFTER the bibliography???

Projects like an annotated bibliography lead you beyond what you knew when you started. Your annotated bibliography will be shaped by what you find and what you learn, so it makes sense to write the Introduction when you know exactly what you've accomplished, and what the final scope and limitations of your resource selection are.

The introduction

Typically a short overview of the research focus, the introduction needs to define the topic, the scope of the bibliography, and if it is meant to cover the whole range of opinion or just one viewpoint or aspect. Check your Subject Outline or verify with your lecturer for what else needs to be included in the introduction.

Note: In a very short exercise ("Write an annotated bibliography with at least three different works."), giving it an informative title might take the place of writing an introduction.

For longer bibliographies, especially ones that attempt to give a full overview of a topic, having an introduction is essential. Very specific topics need to be defined clearly, or the reader might be misled.

Describe the scope of your bibliography, i.e., whether it covers what you judge to be the best, or the most recent, or a broad sample of the available material on your topic.

Again, does it cover the whole range of opinion, or just one viewpoint or aspect of the topic?

Example: Postmodern Interpretations of Hamlet

Does it cover a particular time period, or does it reach back for the "classic" articles, even if they are decades old?


Black Republicans' Opinions on Barack Obama's Candidacy

Negative Criticism of Keynesian Economics during the Reagan Administration

The Lutheran Response to the Holocaust, 1951-1975


Where to get help

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