What's the big deal?
There are fundamental differences between an annotated bibliography and a literature review that are crucial to completing the assignment correctly. The chart below is provides an overview of the biggest differences between the two types of assignments in a side-by-side comparison. However, if you need more specific information about either assignment, visit our Annotated Bibliography and/or Literature Review pages for more detailed information on how to complete them.
Differences between an annotated bibliography and literature review
An organized list of citations/sources to books, articles, and documents.
Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph (a.k.a. the annotation).
An organized discussion of published information like surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) in a particular subject area (and/or a subject within a certain time period) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory.
It provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.
For both, consider that any collection of materials on a topic, not necessarily the great literary texts of the world, can be included.
“Literature” could be anything.
Notice, there a BIG DIFFERENCE between the two.
An annotated bibliography is mostly a summary of the reading and a place for you to talk about how and why the literature fits in to your research.
A Lit Review provides a summary + critical analysis + synthesis + overview of prior work done on a subject + reveals gaps in research
Paragraph/section 1: short summary of article in your own words.
Paragraph/section 2: evaluation
*SOME annotated bibliographies require an introduction. Ask your professor if this is a requirement. If an introduction is required, it should be less than a page long and should include the following:
Main Body: Often organized chronologically, thematically, or methodologically and contains your discussion of sources—
Notice that an annotated bibliography has less sections AND does not require as much detail or analysis of sources like Literature Reviews do.
Annotated Bibliographies often include personal reactions and opinions and may use 1st person (I/me), but literature reviews do not provide personal arguments or opinions and are written in 3rd person (never use I/me).