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Annotated Bibliographies: Clarify Your Topic

Starting Points

Developing your topic is the first step in the process. If you need basic help developing your topic check out this video.

Encyclopedias and dictionaries are a great places to begin research as they provide concise overviews and keywords to use for researching your topic.

Kent State University. (2014, September 16). Developing a Topic. Retrieved from

Clarifying Your Topic

You will need to explore to determine the focus of your annotated bibliography.

  • Read multiple resources before selecting a topic.
  • Avoid selecting a topic that is too broad.
  • Check in with your instructor as you develop your topic to ensure you have a manageable project.

Your research question will originate from the discipline you are studying, but ideally it will focus on a specific interest of your own in that discipline.

  • Think about the question or questions you would like to have answered.
  • Write a specific research topic statement.

You should have a clearly defined focus for your project, but this focus may change as you develop your project.

  • Revising and refining your research question will be part of your process.
  • Even after you begin to write you will cycle back to the planning and researching stages.

Begin to document your project immediately.

  • Decide how you will record the information you collect.
  • If you decide to use a citation management program, become familiar with it.

Understanding the Scope of Your Annotated Bibliography

When developing your annotated bibliography, you will need to determine what the scope of your project will be.


How current does the research for your project need to be?

  • Research for the sciences is always changing and quickly becomes obsolete.
  • For the humanities and social sciences a summary of older literature is often used to assess changes in perspectives.

How detailed or comprehensive will your project be?

  • A project can take all or part of the research regarding your topic into account.

In which ways will you examine the research pertaining to your project?

  • You can focus on different types of research such as qualitative or quantitative studies, or by considering the methodological approaches used in past works.‚Äč

Literature Reviews (2014) The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.