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Last Updated: May 18, 2022     Views: 2671





Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

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Audio: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar. I'm Claire Helakoski and I'll be facilitating this webinar. Let's go ahead and get started. But before we do, I want to go over just a few housekeeping notes. So first, I want to note that this session is being recorded. So, if you need to leave during, or if the timing doesn't work for you, or if your internet drops out, then you can view the recording. It will be available within 24 hours in our webinar recording archive which I'll link to at the end of the presentation and is also available in our slides.

Throughout the webinar the polls, files and links will be interactive and Michaels prepared a couple of chats for you as well. During the webinar if you have questions, you can use the question and answers box and I will be in there to respond as best as I am able. If you think of questions later or you’re watching this recording, then you can go ahead and send questions to or visit us during our live chat hours to have an immediate response.

During the webinar if you’re having any kind of technical issues, then you can let me know in the Q & A box. And I do have a couple of tips and tricks that may help resolve your issues. But you can also you can find the Adobe help button at the top right of the adobe connect panel, so at the top right there. And that is Adobe’s official support, so if you’re having major technical issues then I would suggest going there. But do let me know first, so that I can give you any tips tricks that I have. All right. So, with that we will go ahead and hand it over to the representor today, Michael.


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography Basics” and the speaker’s name and information: Michael Dusek, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar regarding lit reviews and annotated bibliographies. My name is Michael Dusek and I'm really happy to be leading this webinar today, excited. Essentially what we are going to be doing is we’re going to be taking a look at these two genres at these two written genres. Both the literature review and the annotated bibliography. We’re going to discuss some conventions. Or some typical characteristics that you might see or encounter in literature reviews and annotated biliographies. And we’re just going to go through general formatting and organizational tips as to how to organize these documents and get them to a place where they are useful to both you and to your reader.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Webinar Objectives

  • Overview of Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies:
    • Purpose
    • Formatting & Organization
    • Writing Tips & Examples
    • Relationship Between the Two

Audio: So that was kind of my broad stroke overview. Here are the more specific objectives of this particular webinar. We will overview these things. We are going to talk about conventions of these two genres, the purpose of them, what are they meant to accomplish? I think the literature review and annotated bibliography are somewhat related, but they really are meant to accomplish different things; they have different purposes.

We are going to look at the formatting and organization of these documents which are significantly different. So, we are going to see how they are different and how one could perhaps inform the other. We are going to look at writing tips and some examples of this, some things that can save you time and perhaps some anxiety and headaches and some examples to show you how these are typically formatted and what they look like typically in the academic community.

And lastly as I mentioned, we are going to discuss the relationship between the two genres, and how one can lead into the other and how really these are some ways working with the same materials even though they are doing pretty significantly different things.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Alternative Names:

  • Annotated bib =
  • annotated bibliography
  • Annotation = 
  • part of annotated bibliography
  • Lit review =
  • literature review

Audio: But, yeah, to break this down a little, to talk about these, alternative names, you can see this is an annotated bib. Right? This is kind of a shortened version of a bibliography there. For annotated, a part of annotated bibliography, think of annotated as really anything. Any time you are interacting with a source.

A broad definition of annotation is any mark that you make in a document. So, if you are highlighting something, if you are underlining a piece that you’re working with, maybe writing some notes in the margin or putting a question mark next to something that you need to look up, these are all considered annotations. For the purpose of annotated bibliography, it's sufficient to think of this as working with a draft or working with a source, excuse me, working with a piece of scholarship you might potentially use in your research.

Lit review is a shortened version of word literature review. These are really used interchangeably. If you see these shortened versions, you can assume that they are referring to these two documents or one of the two.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Annotated Bibliography

Annotate: “to make or furnish critical or

explanatory notes or comment”

Bibliography: “the history, identification, or

description of writings or publications”

                          (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2012)

Audio: So, to begin with then, let's pick one. And for the purpose of this webinar we pick the annotated bibliography to start with. But before we get into breaking this up, I want to talk about how the annotated bibliography is primarily a research tool. It is meant to aid you in collecting your research and kind of sussing out both what this source is doing; how it could do this thing better. And then how this might be useful or applicable to you in your research.

But to ground this, I want to start with the foundation that an annotated bibliography is a research tool. It's meant to help you organize your research. Right? Okay.

Now that we’ve established that foundational definition here, let's break up these two words. Annotate, to make or furnish critical or explanatory notes or comments. Yeah, it's to work with a draft. As you guys are scholars now, in a higher level of post-secondary level here, generally speaking, you really can think of yourself as professional readers. When you read a scholarly source or read a source you are thinking of using in your research, you don't want to be a passive party to that. You want to actively engage with that source and annotations are part of doing this. Making notes in a source, underlining things, highlighting things that you may need to look up again. These are all considered annotations. But, again, for the purpose of this discussion, an annotation is really working with a source, is this kind of critical or explanatory note that you provide for that source.

A bibliography is defined by Merriam Webster, as the history or identification or discription of writings or publications. Really what we are looking for here is publication information, history, identification, description; where is this source coming from. Right? Where are you getting this from and how does this compile into a list of other sources on a related topic.

I know that's a little wishy washy on the second part of this definition, but this is going to become a little bit more clear as we take a look at how to compile this, what elements go into, an annotation or annotated bibliography entry, and that will be a little bit more clear as we go on here.

For those of you looking for a resource outside of this webinar discussing annotated bibliographies, in the bottom right corner of this slid, you can see we have a link to our annotated page. What this is, it's a website, web page, that explains how annotated bibliographies work, the elements that need to be included in a typical annotated bibliography. And it gives you an example of what an annotated bibliography could look like, as well as should look like, better said. So, if you are watching this recording or downloaded the slides and want to refer to a resource about this topic after the fact, after this webinar, this is a great one. Right there on the bottom right.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography: Purpose

  • For your reader:
    • Teaches about a particular topic
    • Demonstrates a source’s value
    • Shows depth/breadth of research
  • For yourself:
    • Helpful note-taking and reflection exercise
    • Promotes analysis and critical reading
    • Preparation for a writing project

Audio: Thinking about the purpose of annotated bibliographies, you can think of it as certain purposes for the reader. It has certain purposes for yourself. As I mention, this is primarily used as a research topic, but a research tool, excuse me. But it's not uncommon to get an assignment to complete an annotated bibliography within a course. So, there's something of a reader awareness or a purpose for the reader, as well as for you, the researcher, compiling this.

So, for the reader what an annotated bibliography can do. Is it can inform the reader about a particular topic. It can demonstrate a source's value or why a source is important within a topic area, and it can show depth or breadth of research. And annotated bibliography is generally going to consist of a many entries. Throughout your research process you are going to continue to add to this probably, but it's going to show again a breadth of research, what information is out there on a topic.

For yourself, again, this is a research tool. This is helpful in note taking and reflecting on your source. A lot of the difficulty of writing is knowing where to look and being able to save yourself time in referring to a source that you’ve already read can be valuable in that you don't have to reread that source. You can look at an annotated bibliography and say that's what that source is about and here's why I thought it was useful to me in my research process. So really, it's to save you time, promotes analysis and critical thinking.

With an annotated bibliography pushes you to do, is not just summarize a source, but critique it and take that critical eye to it. One of the paragraphs in an annotated bibliography focuses specifically on critiquing that source. What is that source doing well, what could that source do better, perhaps. And in this way you are joining that conversation as a scholar. So this does this as well.

So lastly it prepares you for a writing project. It's a way of compiling your research so that you can kind of have it all in one place before you get off and get towards creating and outline or drafting. It's a place to store the research that you have already done, so in that way it can be really valuable.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography: Purpose

  • At Walden:
    • Course assignments
    • Prewriting for large projects

Audio: Where will you encounter annotated bibliographies? As I mentioned you might see these in course assignments. When I would teach writing, this would not be uncommon for me to give students. Walden will assign an annotated bibliography as a beginning or as a jumping off point to a larger research project. I think they do this because they think that this is an important element in the research process. So yeah, you might encounter these as course assignments. Beyond that, for those of you working on a larger project like a capstone or a dissertation document, these are really meant as a prewriting strategy, or again, a tool, to allow you to approach that larger piece more efficiently and being from a place of being more informed. You will research more and you will be more informed individually about that topic. But it's not uncommon to see these in course assignments. So, there's a do it for the professor side and there’s the do it for yourself side. And as you get to these capstone or dissertation documents, the do it for yourself to save yourself the anxiety, is going to become the dominant purpose here. But alas you might see these in course assignments too.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography: Format & Organization

Alphabetized list of reference entries + annotations

Reference entry listed in alphabetical order.

                             Annotation of source in paragraph format.

Reference entry.


Reference entry.


Audio: Okay. Talking about formatting and organizing, annotated bibliography, the first thing to note, is that these are like a reference list. These are going to be alphabetized. So, you’re going to start with the sources that begin with A in their reference entry. This is kind of a brief out line here that discusses this. So, as you can see, you will start with a reference entry in alphabetical order. And then you’re going to below that, put your annotations. These are a number of paragraphs that we are going to break apart in an upcoming slide, but for the purposes of right now you can think of an annotated bibliography or each annotation, as having two pieces. You are going to have your reference entry, which is APA formatted. Looks like a reference entry at the end of a piece you have composed. And you are going to have your annotation part.

So, these two parts. Again, as I mentioned the annotation part is going to be broken down further, but let's start here for now, shall we. And this is how this is going to look in this brief outline, you’ll have a reference entry, and below it you’ll have your annotation piece and you will keep listing those sources in an alphabetized order there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography: Format & Organization

  • Reference:
  • Use proper APA format
  • Annotation:
  • Use consistent paragraph format
    • 3 paragraphs: Summary, Analysis, and Application
    • 2 paragraphs: Summary/Analysis and Application
  • Depends on your purpose and faculty’s expectations

Audio: And to break this down a little farther as I promised, as I said that I would do. You start again with this reference entry that is in APA formatting. A helpful resource that I know I use a lot and I think, I know Claire uses allot too, is this link here for common reference list examples. What this link has is, it provides some formatting for some commonly used sources. Things like journal articles, like books, like web pages. Even down to things like course materials or interviews and these types of things. It will have a number of different formats and each source has a different formatting. Right? This link will give you some examples of those that you can use as examples to double check that your reference entries are correct.

Now this second part, as I mentioned, can be kind of broken down into a number of parts. This annotation. And for this you’re going to use consistent paragraph formatting. It will be double spaced. But this annotation part often times is broken down into two to three paragraphs. Right? In a three-paragraph annotation you’re going to have one paragraph that summarizes the source, what does it say, what are these authors doing, what are their conclusions and what does this study find. You are going to have a paragraph analyzing or criticizing the source. What did this piece do well, what are some opportunities for this piece to have been better? Is there potentially opportunities for furthering research that this piece brought up. Right? That would be another kind of analysis piece.

And lastly, in a three-paragraph annotation you’re going to have an application paragraph which essentially states why this piece is important broadly in that, in your field. But more importantly, how is this piece useful for your resource process, in your resource project. Something that would be typical to include in an application paragraph would be something like, I feel I'm going to use the data from page 12 on, in my background section or something like this. My point is, is that this is how this applies to you, how is it useful in your specific research product.

A shorter version of an annotation can only have two paragraphs, where you combine the summary and analysis and then have a separate application paragraph. In an even simpler annotation maybe for yourself as you’re reading a number of sources, you might just have a summary paragraph. But my point is, there's a number of ways to do this. If you are encountering this as a course assignment it's likely the professor is going to ask you to include a three-paragraph annotation. If you are doing this on your own, and this is not part of a course assignment, this is just a research tool for you, you can choose to format this however you want. Right? Because it's about finding what is useful to you personally. This is the format that we think is quite effective. And, again, in course assignments where you’re being assigned an annotated bibliography to complete it's usually going to be either one of these two and I would say primarily the three-paragraph annotation.

And again, it expands on your purpose and the faculty expectations. I would like to remind you guys, it is certainly appropriate to reach out to your faculty and to ask those questions. To clarify: Are you expecting a three-paragraph annotation or is a two-paragraph appropriate for this piece. I guess the reason I say this, often times I find students are a little reticent about contacting professors with questions, but I want to reassure you this is an appropriate question to reach out to your faculty or to your professor with.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography: Writing Tips

  • Summary
    • Take factual notes
    • Use the past tense
    • Use your own words
    • Focus on purpose, methods and findings
    • Include the most relevant information
  • Analysis
    • Take questioning notes
    • Focus on strengths and then weaknesses
    • Go broad à narrow
    • Do not feel the need to be “nice.”
  • Application
    • Take notes of your reactions
    • Relate the source to yourself, your field, other scholars, the community, etc.
    • How could this source be useful?
    • Potentially use “I”

Audio: To break this down a little further from the annotation piece here, a summary paragraph is going to be your first paragraph of your annotation. And again, this is factual notes. This is what your summarizing this piece. You want to use the past tense. In APA, specifically you want to use past tense when referring to pieces that have already been published. A good way to think about this, is this has been already said. As it was published, say, in the year 2012, it has already been said in the year 2012 so it is appropriate to discuss that piece in the past tense.

In your summary paragraph you’re going to use your own words. Really you want to focus on the purpose, the methods and the findings of the study. What did the study set out to do, how did they plan to accomplish that goal or test that hypothesis? And then at the end what did they find. Right? What were their conclusions, what were they able to draw from this study?

And in your summary when thinking about what to include and what to omit, what to leave out, you really want to include the most relevant information there. Right? What’s the meat of this study, what did these authors really look for and what did they really find. These are things to include, maybe smaller pieces about the methodology or some smaller details that the author includes that didn't turn out to be as important to the conclusions of the study. These can be things to omit. But again, it's what relevant to your research topic. That's the information that should be included in the summary paragraph.

Now, the analysis paragraph, your second paragraph of an annotation, I often refer to as the critique paragraph, is really about bringing this critical eye to your engagement with the source. Right? You want to take questioning notes. Focus on the strengths and on the weaknesses of a source. Right? What could this source have done better. We’re going to look at a couple of examples later on in this presentation of some ways to critique a source and to pick apart ways a source that could have tested something more accurately.

In an analysis paragraph you want to start broadly and work specifically. Broadly this study is doing this well, more specifically it could do this better. That's a general way to approach an analysis paragraph.

And lastly, don't feel the need to be nice here. I think this is an important point about scholarship at the graduate or PhD level in general, and that's that you’re entering this conversation. Right? So, it's okay to disagree with the author. I would encourage you to keep a professional tone, but it's okay to encounter a study where you say I don't think this is a very accurate study for these three reasons. That's okay. That as a scholar, someone who studies in this field and who is familiar with scientific methods and other ways to test hypotheses, it's appropriate for you to add your voice to this even if it's in disagreement. Just a general note for you all there.

Your last paragraph again, is this application paragraph. Take notes as to your reactions. That's a good tip there. But again, you want to relate the source to yourself, to your field, to other scholars, to your intellectual communities that you are a part of, etcetera, in an effort to recognize how this could be useful to you and to your research project. 

So, again, to simplify this a little bit, a good application paragraph will talk about maybe the significance of the study in the field; so, and so study is foundational in the field of psychology because it studied X, Y and Z that produced a lot more research. That would be an appropriate detail to include in an application paragraph. But, again, where it's most important to you as a researcher would be this, how it is useful to my research product; I would like to use the methodology of this study to then test a different hypothesis in my dissertation. Something like that. But, again, it's going to be different for every person. But the application paragraph, as you think about this as you approach this, the important part is how is this source useful to me. That's how it applies. That's where the rubber meets the road here. So, again, a typical annotation has three paragraphs and each does something significantly different.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography:

  1. Summary Paragraph

       Thompson, Kirk, and Brown conducted a study to determine how burnout and emotional exhaustion of female police officers affect their family environment based upon role ambiguity and role overload.  Thompson et al. mailed out surveys to 1,081 female police officers employed by the Australian State Police; however, only 421 surveys were useable.  The researchers predicted that supervisor support would reduce role stressors and emotional exhaustion and improve family cohesion and conflict.  They found a relationship between supervisor support and reduced role stressors, family functioning, and emotional exhaustion, but did not find a correlation between coworker support and work stress.  Thompson et al. suggested that further research is needed on how emotional exhaustion affects family stressors in policewoman.

Audio: Next we’re going to have some examples of these. For the summary paragraph I don't think I'll read this whole thing because I think at this level you guys are familiar with summarizing a piece, but this is what this could look like. (Reading) Thompson Kirk and Brown conducted a study to determine how burnout and emotional exhaustion of female police officers affect their family environment based upon role ambiguity and role overload.

This goes on to summarize the rest of this piece. As you can see it talks about the sample size here. It talks about the methodology. This male survey thing. And at the end it talks about these findings. They found a relationship between supervisor support and role stressors.

To get back to our slide and in an example here, what this does is talks about what the authors were looking to find, it talks about how they plan to find that or test that hypothesis, and then at the end it talks about what they did find. The conclusions of that piece. So, you can see all the parts are here.

One thing that’s important to note as we look at this example as you can see there are no citations here. Right? In an annotated bibliography the reason why often times we don't include citations, this can be seen a bit as redundant. So, if you have a reference entry above your annotations it's kind of implied that what follows here based on the genre of annotated bibliographies is a summary critique and an application of the above source.

However, in some course assignments you may be required to cite within the paragraphs of an annotated bibliography. So that would be the expectation of the instructor and the purpose which you are using this for. If you are using this annotated bibliography as a research tool, you don't need to necessarily include citations there because you know where you are drawing this from. If you are turning this in for a grade you might want to include citations, because that's conventional in APA formatting in general. But if you have a question about this, this is something to reach out to your professor about and would be a perfectly appropriate question to ask. To wrap up this slide, the summary paragraph it summarizes. You talk about what the study is doing.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography:

  1. Analysis Paragraph

Although Thompson et al. made a significant contribution to the field of police research, the article had several limitations.  First, the researchers chose a small and specialized sample that did not include policewomen or other minorities.  Second, the researchers potentially influenced results by asking leading questions in the interviews and focus group meetings.  Therefore, further research is needed with a wider demographic range and completely impartial interviewers.

Audio: The analysis paragraph, then you are working with this piece. Right? You are talking about the strengths and the weaknesses. Although (reading) Thompson, et al made a significant contribution to the field of police research, the article had several limitations.  First, the researchers chose a small and specialized sample that did not include policewomen or other minorities.  Second, the researchers potentially influenced results by asking leading questions in the interviews and focus group meetings.  Therefore, further research is needed with a wider demographic range and completely impartial interviewers.

Now again, this has a professional tone. But you can see the author in this example analysis paragraph is really pointing out the shortcomings of this study. After reading it and evaluating the methods that this study, this hypothetical study uses, this author concluded that it could be done better in a couple of ways. There could be a wider sample size and there could be an impartial questionnaire or an impartial person asking the questions. So, it's in this way you can really work with the source and point out some ways it could be done better. That's really what the critique or analysis paragraph is all about. What did the study do well, but also what is it not doing so well? What are some opportunities for the study to have been more accurate or been done better more broadly?


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography

  1. Application Paragraph

This study was valuable to understanding the relationship between employees’ views of change and the coping mechanisms used. Based on the results, the business sector should reinforce positive emotions to reduce withdrawal and increase commitment to the change. This implication aligns with Kotter’s 8-step change model emphasizing the positive and reinforcing employees for their efforts. This study, as well as Kotter’s model, will serve as the basis for the Business Change Strategy of my Application.

Audio: Excuse me. Lastly, we are going to, you would include an application paragraph. And as I mentioned, this is where the rubber meets the road as a researcher. Here’s what an application would sound like. (Reading) This study was valuable to understanding the relationship between employees’ views of change and the coping mechanisms used. Based on the results, the business sector should reinforce positive emotions to reduce withdrawal and increase commitment to the change. This implication aligns with Kotter’s 8-step change model emphasizing the positive and reinforcing employees for their efforts. This study, as well as Kotter’s model, will serve as the basis for the Business Change Strategy of my Application.

So, as you can see here, this author is talking about what this study does well and how it contributes to this larger field. How it is applied to the field in general. In this case comparing it to Kotter's eight step change model. And then at the end is where this author talks about what this is study means to their project. This is going to serve as the basis for my application of a business strategy change. So yeah, the application is what are you going to do, how is this useful to you?


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography

All Together

[Reference Entry] Thompson, B. M., Kirk, A., & Brown, D. (2006). Sources of stress in policewomen: A three factor model. International Journal of Stress Management, 13(3), 309-328. doi:10.1037/1072-5245.13.3.309 

    [1. Summary] Thompson, Kirk, and Brown conducted a study to determine how burnout and emotional exhaustion of female police officers affect their family environment based upon role ambiguity and role overload…

    [2. Analysis] Although Thompson et al. made a significant contribution to the field of police research, the article had several limitations…  

    [3. Application] This study was valuable to understanding the relationship between employees’ views of change and the coping mechanisms used…

Audio: Altogether then, it can look something like this, start off with this reference entry. We then have our summary, our analysis paragraph and our application paragraph.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography

Let’s Take a Look!

Annotated Bibliography Example

Audio: So, let's take a look at what this can actually look like on paper. What this is formatted like on an entire annotated bibliography. As you can see we start with this title page. As we go on this starts with something of an introduction paragraph, something to lead the reader in and introduce them to the topic this annotated bibliography will be covering.

As a note here, not all professors are going to require you to have an introduction paragraph in your annotated bibliography, but I would recommend if you are turning it in for a grade and the reason is you want to bring the reader up to speed and tell them what topic this annotated bibliography will be covering, I think it's really important in general to give the reader enough background information to understand what you are doing in any piece. So, if you turn this in for a grade, I would recommend an introduction paragraph.

But as this is a research tool, if you are, you don't necessarily need that if you are just using it for your own research. If it's not being turned in and you don't think an introductory paragraph is important, by all means don't include one. But moving on, to take a look at this. We have our first annotation here. Starting with a reference entry. It goes on to have our three paragraphs, of one being a summary, the second an analysis or a critique, and the third being an application. And then it ends. We have another reference entry here that starts another annotation.

This is exactly how these are typically listed, one annotation after the other. You can see that they are alphabetized. And lastly, it is typical and conventional to include a reference list at the end of the piece. Again, as with citing within the piece, some professors and some instructors might find this to be redundant. I would have a hard time disagreeing with them. But this is something that you might be required to include also. So, if that's the case, definitely include that.

One reason I guess to the contrary I would say you should include a reference page, is that you can take these reference entries from here and then just plug them into your document once you are drafting. You have compiled these reference entries, so you can kind of just copy and paste there if you wish. But again, this is really up to the instructor's discretion as to whether or not you need to include this reference list. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Annotated Bibliography

Let’s take a Look!

Annotated Bibliography Example

Audio: Okay. So that was kind of the first bit here about annotated bibliographies. I think this would be a good time to stop for questions.  Claire is there any questions in the Q & A box that you think the large group would benefit from me explaining or talking through?

Claire: Sure, thanks Michael We did have one and it was about the analysis or critique paragraph, that second paragraph in the annotated bibliography. Other than biases, are there other things that students could kind of talk about in that section or that are covered depending on the assignment?

Michael: Sure. That's a great question. Identifying bias in a source is really an important point and something as scholars you really want to be on guard for always, is when a piece is displaying some type of bias. That's one thing you can talk about in that analysis or critique paragraph. Other than that, really anything that you see as being something of a deficiency in a study. So, in our example one thing that they commented on was sample size. And this is something I think that's really common to look at.

In a study, a study has a specific sample or population they are look at or testing. This is something that can be easily manipulated and that isn't always generalizable to a larger population. So, if a sample size is too small, then the implication there is that you can't say the findings are generalizable to the rest of the population. So, sample size is one thing that I see commented on a lot there.

As in our example, again, this kind of the way a question is asked or the method, the methodology of the study would be better said here is another thing that is commented on a lot in a critique or analysis paragraph. How could this study have been done better would be another question to ask? And one often times the answer is the methodology could have been more sound. To refer to our example once more, if you are asking leading questions or if you’re asking questions that have some bias in them inherent, then you could write better questions. That would be another way to approach critiquing or using your own analysis on a study.

Generally speaking, though, it's really anything that you see that can be done better in a study. So, I mentioned a couple here, but there are many more, there are many more ways that a study can be done better. So, finding those and pointing those out is really what the analysis and critique paragraph is really all about. Any others Claire?

Claire: No, That was really great. Thank you, Michael.

Michael: Cool. All right. So that's our annotated bibliography section of this webinar.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Relationship Between Annotated Bibliographies & Literature Reviews


Annotated bibliography = preparation for any writing project


Literature review = foundation for research

Audio: (laughing) Moving on then. We are going to talk a little bit about the relationship between annotated bibliographies and literature reviews. In an effort to kind of transition to talk about lit reviews.

So, to kind of ping pong off this slide here, annotated bibliography is something that's really meant to prepare you for any writing project. It's a research tool that you can use to inform a project of any length, essentially. A literature review is going to be a foundation for the research that you are conducting. So, an annotated bibliography compiles the research out there that you looked at. A literature review talks about the specific studies that are applicable to your narrowed topic that you are then going to be building from in your research project. So that's a little wishy washy, but I'm going to unpack how a literature review function differently. So, I'm hoping this will be clear as we get towards the end of this webinar and I think it will. So, stick with me.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Literature Review

“a written approach to examining published information on a particular topic or field. Authors use this review of literature to create a foundation and justification for their research or to demonstrate knowledge on the current state of a field.” (Walden Writing Center, n.d., para. 1)

More Resources!

“Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research” recorded webinar

Audio: The literature review, to use our definition here, is a written approach to examining published information on a particular topic or field. Authors use this review of literature to create a foundation and justification for their research or to demonstrate the knowledge on the current state of the field.

Yeah. That's a great definition. (Laughing). Really what I think about literature review as, its something that, it's a portion of a larger document. Right? That shows the reader what research is out there already on a narrowed topic.

One metaphor that people often use to talk about a literature review is that a literature review it's like a dinner party. So, each source is a scholar in this field and they are talking to each other about the specific topic. The literature review is, to go off this analogy, is compiling what is said at that conversation and that dinner table. Right? What are these different sources adding on this topic. How are they agreeing, how are they disagreeing? And you use that as the definition indicates, as a foundation for your own research. So, having this conversation in front of me, I think that the next place for this conversation would go in this direction. That's how the literature review functions.

More resources here on the bottom right hand corner. We have another webinar that discusses reviewing the literature and incorporating previous research specifically. If that’s something that interests you, go ahead and take a look at that too. Again, you are developing a foundation for your own research and telling the reader what research has been done on an narrowed topic already.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Purpose

  • For your reader:
    • Overviews your chosen topic or field
    • Demonstrates your depth of knowledge
    • Can show a gap or your research focus
  • For yourself:
    • Supports and guides research
    • Promotes analysis and critical reading
    • Can help you find a gap or your research focus

Audio: For your reader then, these are overviews literature reviews, excuse me, overviews of your chosen topic or field; that again demonstrates this depth of knowledge. This is what has been published on this topic thus far. It can even show a gap in research that you can then focus on. Like, what's an opportunity for furthering research there.

For yourself, it supports and guides the research. It can promote analysis and critical reading. There's a really strong analysis or synthesis part of a literature review. And lastly, it can help you find a gap in the literature that you can focus on. Everyone is looking for this gap in the literature that they can then use their study to fill and so this again can be something that helps you do that, the literature review.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Purpose

Examination of all the scholarship on a particular topic or field written in narrative form via synthesis.

  • Not summary or report
  • Not just research that agrees
  • Focused
  • Not a list of annotations or organized alphabetically or chronologically
  • Not just summary or analysis

Audio: So, again, the purpose of a literature review to break this down a little bit farther is an examination of all of the scholarship on a particular topic or field written in narrative form via synthesis. There's a lot going on there, so were going to unpack this a little bit more.

It's an examination. It's not a summary or a report. You are not just regurgitating what a source says. You are not just reporting about this source. You are examining it. So, what's implied is that you will be working with this source and looking at some of the elements within a source and comparing it to other sources that way. So, it's not just a summary.

It's going to be all the resources within a certain narrowed topic area. Not all research is going to agree. You’re going to have those different voices at the dinner table. One scholar might not agree with another. So, you will highlight where they differ and how that disagreement comes about and what they are disagreeing about.

A topic will be a focus or a narrowed topic. You don't want this to be too broad. If you think about a topic like climate change, if you go into academic search premiere or another database to search for a different journal articles and type in climate change, you’re going to get thousands upon thousands of published articles. So, you need to focus that down so you are really narrowing your topic to focus on a specific conversation within that large umbrella topic area.

It's a narrative, so it's not a list of annotation. Or organized alphabetically or chronologically. You are putting it into writing could be another way to say that it's a narrative. You are not just listing or bulleting; you are bringing these together in paragraph form.

And, lastly, it is not just summary or analysis it’s synthesis, which is a kind of a big word that we use a lot here, synthesis, really the way I think of it is bringing two distinct things together to make a new whole. We’re going to talk about this in another slide. Is synthesis is putting two things together to create something new.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Organization

Annotated bibliography = Organized by sources

Literature review = Organized by theme

Literature reviews are about synthesis

Audio: Here's our difference again. Annotated bibliography organized by sources. Literature review is not organized by sources; it's organized by themes. Right? So, if you are crafting a literature review, logistically speaking each one of your paragraphs in a literature review should contain more than one source. Part of synthesis is putting these sources in conversation with one another. Right? So, it's kind of hard to have a conversation alone (laughing). So, in a literature review each paragraph should cover a theme that multiple sources approach. And I’m going to explain that a little bit further as well. But again, don't organize your literature review by source; organize it by theme.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Purpose

What is synthesis?

  • Identifying patterns among sources
  • Analyzing strengths/weaknesses of the sources or field
  • Comparing and contrasting the authors’ findings
  • Interpreting what is known in your field and what is missing

Adding to the conversation

…Although Benson (2015) suggested technical innovations make providing health care easier, Campbell et al. (2014) noted that technology is only helpful if hospital staff are adequately trained on the new system. Thus, adequately training hospital staff is essential to successfully implementing new technology….

Audio: And, again, this brings in the synthesis piece which we will talk about right here. Synthesis. As I mention, bringing two different things together to make a new whole. The example that I like to give here is with chemistry. Synthesizing chemicals. You are taking two chemicals that are completely distinct from one another, they are different, and when you combine them, you’re creating something new. It's not just these two chemicals together now, it is something completely different. It's a new chemical. That is kind of how synthesis works in writing as well.

You’re going to identify patterns among sources. So, I have five sources that all talk about making a grill cheese sandwich. Two of these sources have the same methodology. They say to make a grill cheese sandwich in the same way. This is a theme or pattern within these sources. It would be appropriate then to discuss these two sources together and how they are subtly different in making a grill cheese sandwich.

Your analyzing strengths and weaknesses of a source or field. Comparing and contrasting an authors' findings. As you research in a topic area not every source is going to agree with each other. You will have authors that sometimes very distinctly or drastically disagree with each other. So again, you want to include all of the voices at that dinner party. You want to bring everyone's voice in and give them some time to express their views and relate that to the other views at the table.

You’re going to be interpreting what is known in your field and what is missing. And here's an example of this source synthesis idea. (Reading) Although Benson suggested technical innovations make providing health care easier, Campbell et al. (2014) noted that technology is only helpful if hospital staff are adequately trained on the new system. So, these are the two sources. We have two bits of information here. Benson says this and if the other side of the dinner table Campbell et al., says this, we’re bringing these two ideas together to make a new idea. That's the bolded portion on the slide. Thus, adequately training hospital staff is essential to successfully implement new technology. So, we say Benson says that new technology is makes giving healthcare, makes it easier to provide healthcare. Campbell et al, says it's important that all staff are trained properly on anything. To bring these together it's important to train hospital staff on new technology. It's two pieces that together yield this new point. Okay.

For those of you maybe feel confused or intimidated at this point, synthesis is a pre ‑‑ it's a high order scholarly or intellectual activity. It's something that needs to be practiced. It's a skill that needs to be developed. So, if you are not seeing how sources fit together right away, that's totally fine. You are going to be working with these sources more and these kinds of things will become more clear to you as you research more and deal with sources more. For those starting out, don't be intimidated. You will get it. Synthesis is a muscle that needs to be flexed it’s something that can be practiced and improved upon, so don't get discouraged is what I'm saying.

Yeah. This bit of synthesis adds to this conversation.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Purpose

…After Kroll (2016) suggested that streamlining workflow using technology would allow for more time with patients, Macijewski (2017) noted that technology is only able to save time when hospital hardware is kept updated.

Chat Box:

Is this a strong or weak example of synthesis?

Audio: Okay. We have our first chat here. And essentially, I’ve got a bit of a source, an excerpt from a literature review here. I'm looking for you to in this chat box speak about the strengths or weaknesses of this example, how well or lack thereof maybe are these; is synthesis being brought into this example. I'll give you a couple of minutes to do this. Again, put your answers in the chat box.

[silence as students respond]

Alright for the sake of time here, I’m going to move along. Let’s take a look at this. After Kroll 2017 suggested streamlining workflow using technology allowed for more time with patients... Macjewski (2017) noted that technology is only able to save time when hospital hardware is kept updated. Yeah, this is a, I would say this is an example of weak synthesis or a lack of synthesis at all. I see a couple of you kind of agreed with me in the chat box. I like how one student said it's a weak synthesis and the next student said no synthesis at all (laughing). It’s a little less diplomatic. But you are right, there's no synthesis here. What this is doing is presenting Kroll's idea and then it’s presenting Macijewski’s ideas. These are two separate things. Two voices in the conversation. But what this is forgetting that synthesis piece. Right? Is bringing these two things together. Given that these two ideas are both valid, what does that leave us with. Combining these, how do we make that whole. Here's an example of how that could look.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Purpose


…After Kroll (2016) suggested that streamlining workflow using technology would allow for more time with patients, Macijewski (2017) noted that technology is only able to save time when hospital hardware is kept updated. Thus, hospitals must invest both in software and IT departments to support and update technology to be effective.

Chat Box:

Is this a strong or weak example of synthesis?

Audio: Again, we have Krolls idea here, we have Macijewski’s idea there. The synthesis that would make this a strong synthesis (laughing), the sentence that would make this a strong synthesis is highlighted in bold here. (Reading) Thus, hospitals must invest both in software and IT departments to support and update technology to be effective.

Yes, so this is bringing these together. Kroll saying technology could streamline this and make for more time with patients. Macijewski is saying the hardware needs to be up‑to‑date. Putting these two things together, hospitals need to make sure the software and the IT departments are supported for technology to be effective. Right? That's the new idea that we have created here.

Kroll isn’t talking about hardware systems within technology. Kroll is talking about how hardware could affect the delivery of services to a patient. Combining these two you have this new thing, new elements.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Organization

  • (check mark) By Theme
    • Unique organization
    • Talk about multiple authors in sections and paragraphs
    • Allow authors to “talk to each other”
    • Creates narrative form
  • (red x) By Author
    • Limits organization
    • Limits a paragraph to one source
    • Doesn’t allow synthesis of sources
    • Creates summary or book report feel

Audio: I'll move on. Some kind of do's and don'ts of a literature review and the organization. Do organize this by theme. Says a Unique organization. So, we have a link there can help you with this. You want to talk about multiple authors in the same section and paragraph. Absolutely. You want to allow the authors to talk to each other, to voice their specific ideas. Sure. And you want to create this kind of narrative, this paragraph displaying these authors' ideas.

When you don't do that, when you don't organize this by theme, when you only organize this by author, there's some pretty negative outcomes in terms of the effectiveness of that literature review. This limits your objection. This limit paragraphs to one source. You can only talk about one source at a time. That's not putting them in conversation with one another. Doesn't allow for synthesis of sources. Yeah, you can't create a new whole if you only have one thing. You just have the one thing (laughing). So yeah, that makes it ineffective also. And if you organize this by author, it just creates a summary or book report feel to it.  When really, we need this conversational piece and synthesis of these sources for this to be a true and effective literature review.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Writing Tips

Use Paragraphs

No required or prescribed headings

Audio: Some general writing tips. Use paragraphs. You are not required or prescribed to use headings here. But as you can see this can be something that can be useful to use headings. You are not required, but it can be useful.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Writing Tips

Use headings and comparative terms to direct the reader and organize the literature review


Cue your reader to organization and changing topics

Note subtopics of themes

Comparative Terms

Demonstrate where authors agree or disagree

Highlight your interpretation of the authors’ findings

Audio: A heading can cue a reader to an organization or changing of a topic. You can also use headings to explore subtopics of certain themes. Headings I don’t think are a bad idea within a literature review at all. So, yeah, if it helps you organize your thoughts that way, I would say go for it. This bit on the slide about comparative terms is really important also. The idea here being, and I know it sounds kind of silly, but words matter. Words have meanings, specific meanings, so you need to use a language that shows an accurate relationship between these sources. You want to demonstrate where authors agree and where authors disagree.

So, to give you an example how this could sound, you might use the word similarly to show how one author agrees with another. You might use the phrase on the contrary or conversely to show where one author disagrees with another.

Again, my point here being be careful about the language you use in combining and synthesizing sources, because it does have specific meanings. And if sources disagree, saying something like similarly would kind of be confusing to the reader. So, again, be cognizant of the terms that you are using in comparing these sources. Some mean they are agreeing, some mean they are conceding the point. Some mean that they are flat out disagreeing with another source. So be cognizant and aware of the comparative terms that you are using.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Writing Tips


Note themes & patterns as you read

Use a matrix

Use a software program (like Zotero)

Develop an outline

Stay flexible as research develops


Use general good scholarly writing guidelines:


Effective Paraphrasing



Literature Reviews: 5-Part Blog Series

Audio: Some tips here for creating a literature review. In terms of the organization, note the themes and patterns as you read. This is the annotation piece. If you look back at your annotated bibliography you’d say, okay, these three sources and their source summaries have all discussed this one idea, this one narrow idea. That's a theme that can be noted. Use the matrix, the library offers, a resource called the literature matrix, which can really be helpful in organizing your ideas as you compile sources. What this is, is it’s essentially an excel spreadsheet that asks you break down sources by different attributes. Things like sample size, like methodology, theoretical framework that sources are using. There's a link here that’ll get you to that matrix I would highly recommend that, I think it’s a really good resource that Walden provides.

Beyond Walden, is a program called Zotero. Which I’ve heard a lot of students at residency say is really useful, I think it has some added features that can be useful, so if that's something that interests you, go ahead and take a look at that and seek that out.  Developing an outline is important because then you’re taking those themes and you’re saying well I'm going to do one paragraph about this theme and one paragraph about that theme. So that can be useful in reviewing your literature as well. Also, you want to stay flexible as your research develope. This is just strong advice for research in general. Be open to the sources that you find and don't discard a source because you maybe disagree or it doesn't agree with some of your other sources.

In terms of resources, use general good scholarly writing guidelines. Things like Synthesis, effective paragraphing, paragraphs. Transitions are really useful in literature reviews. We have another resource here, literature reviews five-part blog series. That can be a good resource for you if you are compiling a literature review. Again, as with everything with writing, it's about finding what works for you. So, yeah, if you find a matrix or Zotero useful, by all means use that. Find a resource that works well for you is my point here.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Example Headings

  1. Introduction
  2. Strategy
  3. Historical Context of Continuing Education
  4. The Need for Continuing Professional Educations in the Human Services
  5. Professionals’ Views of Continuing Education
  6. Continuing Education in the Funeral Profession
  7. Issues Regarding Mandatory versus Voluntary Continuing Education
  8. Advantages and Disadvantages of Mandatory versus Voluntary Continuing Education
  9. Formal and Informal Continuing Education
  10. Differing Methodologies

Audio: Here's is what an outline for a literature review could like look. These are some, potentially examples headings you could use. Introduction, paragraph. Then this author is going to talk about strategy. How different sources approach strategy. Historical context and continuing education. You get it. These are the different themes this author would have identified in the research. Then breaking it down. They’re going to talk about instances where the research they have gathered addresses the specific themes. And how maybe they agree, how maybe they disagree. Again, this is an example outline you can use, that gives you an idea how a literature review can be broken apart.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Literature Review: Example Paragraph

As Stragalas (2016) argued, sharing specific details about the change will help to eliminate any difficulties. Steele-Johnson et al. (2015) echoed these sentiments when they reported that revealing all of the details about a change process can help those involved better understand and support the change. Steele-Johnson et al. also asserted that a high level of transparency during the change can help those involved prepare for and welcome the change. Similarly, Nahata et al. (2011) showed that transparency through excessive communication can allow for a wider range of acceptance of the change.

Chat Box:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of this paragraph?

Audio: In the interest of time, I think I’m going to burn this second chat because I want to leave a little bit of time for questions. But by all means go back in and take a look at that if you downloaded these slides.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Recap

Annotated Bibliographies

Individual authors/sources

Reference + Annotation

Literature Reviews

Patterns and themes


Annotated Bibliographies (master’s and doctoral students)

Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research (doctoral students)

Literature Reviews for Graduate Coursework (master’s students)

Audio: To recap, annotated bibliographies you really focus on an individual author and a source. You have your reference entry and your annotation. All of those refer to one specific source. This is a research tool that's meant to help you compile your research and see maybe how that research fits together. But it's really meant to see, compile research, and see what individual sources are doing, how are they approaching this topic? What did they find, how could they have done that better, how is this useful to me?

In a literature review, from that annotated bibliography, from the research you compiled you need to identify themes and patterns and reorganize that information around those themes or patterns. Under the theme of X, these three authors talk about that and they approach it in a different way. So that paragraph would unpack these three authors view views and some synthesis at the end, that when combined what these things say together, what is important here. That type of thing.

Here’s a resource on annotated bibliographies and here’s a few resources on a literature review. Both are master levels and doctoral level resource there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research

(for doctoral students)

Literature Reviews for Graduate Coursework (for master’s students)

Annotated Bibliographies (for master’s and doctoral students)

Make a Paper Review Appointment! 

Assist students in becoming better academic writers by providing online, asynchronous feedback by appointment.

Audio: Okay. With that then, I'll ask you again, Claire, any questions you would like me to talk through before we adjourn this webinar?

Claire: Thanks, Michael. I did have a good one which was: Do you recommend working on an annotated bibliography and a literature review at the same time? Or should one or the other potentially come first?

Michael: That is a good one. That's a good question. Well, first and foremost I would point towards this individual thing for different people. Right? If it works well for you to work on them side‑by‑side, I guess I can see a situation in which that might be useful. For me, in my opinion, I think you should do the annotated bibliography first before you do a literature review. Here's why. The literature review, again, it’s really important that you identify these themes and patterns within the research that you have collected. That identifying these themes and patterns informs how your literature review will be ordered and set up and how that synthesis is brought in. So, before you can do that you need to identify these themes. I think that the annotated bibliography as a tool can be really useful in looking at different sources in identifying those themes. I would say, personally, that you do the annotated bibliography before the literature review.

On a broader note, once again it's really about finding what works for you. So, if that's works for you to do them at the same time and to add to individual paragraphs separately, then go for that. That's your method. That's your process. But I would say do the annotated bibliography before the literature review.

Claire: Great. Thanks so much, Michael. I think that's all the questions we have for today. So, thank you for presenting. If you do have questions you can email us at or again visit us during our live chat hours. I know that some of the links were not active during this presentation. Adobe Connect has been really finicky with us lately about doing some weird things with links when we transfer it to the presentation mode, but all the links should be just fine in the actual slides. So, if you want to download the slides, you can go to the pod at the bottom it’s right next to Michaels picture there and click slides lit review and annotated bibliography basics.

If you were looking for any of the links that were not functional during this presentation, they will all be active and correct in that slide show itself. I also want it have a quick plug for additional webinars. We do have some recommendations here. You can review them in our archive or check out ones that are coming up in our webinar schedule. And we are happy to review our next literature review as long as it's not for your dissertation itself. If it's for your course work assignments, those are great things to send into the Writing Center. We are here to support you that way as well.

Thank you all for a great presentation. Have a good rest of your day.


(End of webinar)

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