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Annotated Bibliographies: Evaluative Annotations

Guidelines for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Evaluative Annotation?

Evaluative annotations (also known as "critical" annotations) summarize the essential ideas in a document and provide judgments—negative, positive, or both—about their quality. Evaluative annotations are typically three to four sentences long. Evaluative annotations usually begin with broad comments about the focus of the source then moves to more details. Your comments should move from the details of the text to your evaluation of the source.

Evaluative annotations may contain the following type of information:

  • The importance of the work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • The author’s bias or tone
  • The author’s qualifications for writing the work
  • The accuracy of the information in the source
  • Limitations or significant omissions
  • The work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • Comparison with other works on the topic

Evaluative Annotation: Examples

Essay in an Anthology

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Heart of Darkness. Ed. 
Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton, 1988. 251-62. A provocative essay by the influential Nigerian author Achebe on the prevalent image of Africa in the Western imagination, focusing on the racist dimensions of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Achebe presents an interpretation of the function of the images of Others in the construction of cultural identity and identifies a pervasive need on the part of "the West" to denigrate and dehumanize Africa. This controversial essay has been tremendously influential in recent discussion of multicultural education but has received by no means universal assent. 


Johnstone, Frederick A. Class, Race, and Gold: A Study of Class Relations and Racial Discrimination in South Africa. London: Routledge, 1976. Johnstone effectively examines the labor experience of nonwhites in South African gold mines from a sociological perspective, arguing that the structure of the labor system comes from the industrial capitalism of the mines. Johnstone very convincingly uses a Marxist analysis to portray the low-wage blacks as pawns of the bourgeois mine owners. Contains a good bibliography and many informative tables and statistics of black wage-earners and mine owners.

Journal Article

Schaie, K. W. “Ageist Language in Psychological Research.” American Psychologist 48 (1993): 49-51. An article on avoiding ageist bias in research, discussing objective research design and how to report what the research actually demonstrates without adding value-laden assumptions. Schaie’s general emphasis on how to avoid ageist bias does not offer any specific examples of ageism in research, but Schaie’s approach to ageist bias provides an alternative perspective to my own viewpoint.