Preparing the Annotated Bibliography (Lesson C)

An annotated bibliography provides summary and evaluation of source material collected on a specific topic or research question. Sometimes the annotated bibliography is an independent project – designed primarily to map out the research available on a topic. Other times it is used as part of a larger writing project.


This lesson draws on knowledge of two articles. If you haven’t already, you will want to read them now.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrantsOn the Horizon, 9(5). Retrieved 5 October 2001, from,%20Digital%20 Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Regan, B. (2008). Why we need to teach 21st century skills–And how to do itMultimedia & Internet@Schools15(4), 10-13.

The first step is to understand the main components and formatting requirements for an annotated bibliography. And second, we will look at a template for producing an annotated bibliography.

Formatting the Annotated Bibliography

An entry for an annotated bibliography contains 2 components: the Citation and the Annotation.

Components of the Annotated Bibliography (Reference)
Annotated Bibliography – Components for One Entry

Use the style suitable to your course or field of study.

For this course, we are using the APA style.


An annotation is usually a 100-300-word paragraph.

It includes the following information:

  1. Summary. What is the main argument or conclusion?
  2. Relevance/Authority. Does the source have the credibility necessary to contribute meaningfully to the topic? How?
  3. Position. What particular position does the source take towards the topic? How does it compare to other sources being looked at?
  4. Usefulness. How will this source be useful in answering your research question?
Sample Entry

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On The Horizon, 9(5). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20 Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Producing an Annotated Bibliography

In its final form, an annotated bibliography opens with a brief introduction, explaining the overall topic or research question and clearly indicating the scope and focus of the research. Then, it provides a list of entries, with the full citation and annotation.


Information developed in Lessons A and B of this Study Room will be helpful in completing this task, but not essential. If you haven’t completed it, you can use the following resources to help you in this task:

  • Identify Key Words (Sample Answers)
  • Key Word Matrix (Sample Answers)

Let’s build part of an annotated bibliography for this research question:

Digital technology influences how we gain access to information and how we communicate with other people. In the 21st century, what skills will be essential?

First, complete an introduction to the annotated bibliography. Use the headings in the template to guide you.

Then, complete one sample entry for the article: “Why We Need to Teach 21st Century Skills – And How to Do it.” If you haven’t yet read it, the article is available online here.

Annotated Bibliography (Sample Answers)


This bibliography addresses the general topic of digital literacy and education. Researchers in the fields of education and technology are interested in the skills needed for the future, but significant debate exists about what those skills might be and why they are important. Therefore, this research is focused on the specific question of what skills will be essential in the 21st century to ensure we can access information and communicate effectively. This research was guided by the following questions:

  1. How do we define digital technology? Examples?
  2. How does it affect our access to information? Is there debate about this?
  3. How does digital technology affect the way we communicate? Is there debate about this?
  4. What are the essential 21st Century skills needed to ensure we can succeed in a world shaped by digital technology? Is there debate about this?
  5. Do different fields of study have different views about what skills are necessary?
  6. What skills will be necessary to ensure we can manage all the information that we have access to as a result of digital technology?
  7. What skills will be necessary to ensure we can communicate effectively using digital technology?


Regan, B. (2008). Why we need to teach 21st century skills–And how to do it. Multimedia & Internet@Schools, 15(4), 10-13.


The article explores how “21st century skills” such as media literacy, problem-solving and collaborative ability are new tools to meet long-held progressive views of education that emphasize “learning while doing.” The article, published in the journal Internet@Schools, provides authoritative and practical information aimed at educators. It refers to previous research and is engaged in debate relevant to the fields of teaching and media studies. A quick skim over this article for key words and ideas reveals its relevance. The article summarizes and justifies an emphasis on 21st century skills as a focus for approaches to teaching, taking the position that attention to such values as media literacy, problem-solving, and collaborative skills are consistent with the long-standing goals of education in the United States. The 21st century skills identified in this article overlap with the information from the Henry Jenkins article “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture.” This provides us with at least two articles that are engaged in conversation about the same issues and questions. A good goal for the research project. Both articles provide examples of the skills we need in the 21st century to be good communicators.

Download Sample Answers

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