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PSY 400/401: Advanced General Psychology

A companion resource guide for students taking PSY 400 and PSY 401.

Annotated Bibliography

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.

An annotation is NOT the same thing as an abstract.  Annotations are more than just summaries, they also include a CRITICAL evaluation of the work as well.  For information on how to critically evaluate the credentials and the content of an article please visit Cornell's Critically Analyzing Information Sources page.

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Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA


Complete the following information for each journal article you read.  Complete the information for each section of the article before reading the next section; it will help you understand the sections that follow.  Use bullets, sentences, or paragraphs, whatever is your preferred note taking style.

Start by typing the complete reference – in APA style – for this study.

First, identify the general area(s) being investigated.  Then, for each research study discussed, identify the purpose or hypotheses of the research, what the authors did (their participants, method, and design), what they found (results), and what they concluded.  If later studies in the introduction have similar procedures and findings just say that.

Summarize, in your own words, the hypotheses being tested in the research study you are reading.  What were the authors attempting to show?  What are the independent variables (IVs) and dependent variables (DVs) of this study?


Who were the participants – describe appropriate characteristics.  For example, it may not be important to the study to know where participants are from – skip this information if this is the case.

What was/were the DVs?  What tests, scales or instruments were used to operationally define each DV?

Describe, in your own words, what was done to collect data.  You should be able to do this in a just a few sentences.  Describe any attempts made to control confounds or extraneous variables.

Don’t use numbers here but summarize in words what the authors found.  What were the major results? Did they find support for their hypotheses?  How do the results relate to the other studies cited in the introduction?  How did the researchers interpret the results; what are their overall conclusions?  Did they offer any big “whoops” statements – something that went wrong that makes them (or you) hesitate with their conclusions?  Do they offer suggestions for future research?  Do you have any other interpretations or suggestions for future research?

In 2-3 sentences, in your own words, what did this study tell you?  What were the important conclusions that you might use later?  Add anything else that you think is important to know about this research.

In a final few sentences, describe if and how you will use this study in your proposal.  How does this study relate to other studies you have read? What authors did they cite in this paper that you could follow-up on?   Be as specific as you can at this point.


Complete the following information for each review article or chapter you read.  You can use sentence, paragraph, or bullet format, whatever is most comfortable and useful for you.

Summaries of review articles or chapters in books are similar to the summaries you complete for background information in the Introduction section of a research article. A major difference is that in reviews, you do not always get detailed information about the research methodology; the information usually focuses on results and implications. 

  • First identify the overall goal or purpose of the review.
  • Next, identify the main or key points or subsections of the review.  For each key point, identify the claims made and the research evidence used as support for the claims (ID the authors cited), and the overall interpretations or conclusions about the key point or claim.
  • Next, do your own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the article.  How credible was the information presented?  What were the weak points and strengths?  Was there sufficient evidence presented for the claims made? What questions still remain? Make any other comments you thinks will help you later.
  • Finally, discuss if and how you can use this article/chapter in your term paper.  If you plan to use it, where do you see it fitting into your overall organization?   How does this article relate to others you have read? Identify any authors or research studies cited that would be important to follow-up on for your paper.  Give the article and overall rating in terms of usefulness for your paper. 

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