Annotated bibliographies and literature reviews are very common forms of writing. The intent of each is to assist you, as the researcher, in gathering resources, identifying trends and problems in the research field, and analyzing those resources to assist your own research. This type of writing is also very helpful to the reader as it identifies key research articles and synthesizes the information to create a coherent picture in which the reader can place your research. Remember that you only want to include pivotal and influential research in this type of writing – this means you will want to focus on scholarly articles that contain primary research. Though literature reviews and annotated bibliographies accomplish a very similar purpose, they are not written in an identical manner.
According to the Purdue OWL website, an annotated bibliography is “a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. … Therefore an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources.” An annotated bibliography is compiled of references and summaries in alphabetical order. For more information see the OWL at Purdue Annotated Bibliographies page. For information about how to find examples of annotated bibliographies, see the Library's Annotated Bibliographies FAQ.
A literature review, on the other hand, is “a summary of what the scientific literature says about your specific topic or question.” A literature review generally organizes references by subject matter, theory type, methodology design, etc. A literature review is generally much more exploratory than an annotated bibliography, and must pull together the information that is presented in many disparate sources to form one, cohesive picture of the research field. For more information see the OWL at Purdue Types of APA Papers page.
How do you go about getting the resources you need to write a literature review or an annotated bibliography? Library databases like EBSCOhost and ProQuest are a great place to start because they contain so many resources on so many different topics, but there are some additional databases that you may want to consider using for these types of assignments. These sub-pages identify resources and research techniques for your literature review.
For additional information about conducting literature reviews, please see the following resources from the NCU Library:
Aveyard, H. (2010). Doing a literature review in health and social care: A practical guide (2nd edition).Berkshire, GBR: Open University Press.
Card, N. (2010). Literature review. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of research design. (pp.726-729). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Chaffee, S., & Lieberma, D. (2001). The challenge of writing the literature review. In A. Alexander, & W. James Potter (Eds.), How to Publish Your Communication Research. (pp. 23-47).Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Ford, N. (2012). How to do a literature review. In The essential guide to using the web for research. (pp. 53-81). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Literature Review. (2004). In Donna M. Mertens, & John A. McLaughlin (Eds.), Research and Evaluation Methods in Special Education. (pp. 35-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Literature Reviews. (2001). In Bruce A. Thyer (Ed.), The Handbook of Social Work Research Methods. (pp. 400-413). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc
Literature Reviews and Bibliographic Searches. (2006). In V. Desai, & R. Potter (Eds.), Doing Development Research. (pp. 209-222). London, England: SAGEPublications, Ltd.
Race, R. (2008). Literature review. In L. Given (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. (pp. 488-490). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Thomas, D. R., & Hodges, I. D. (2010). Doing a literature review. In Designing and managing your research project: Core skills for social and health research. (pp. 105-131). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Writing a Literature Review. (2006). In N. Walliman (Ed.), Social Research Methods. (pp. 182-186). London, England: SAGE Publications, Ltd