As students enter the research writing world, they have to learn a whole new language about theses, bibliographies, secondary sources, primary sources and other new terms. Some areas that students find confusing are the differences among abstracts, annotated bibliographic entries and literature reviews.
The confusion is understandable as there are many similarities in these aspects of report writing. First of all, abstracts, annotations and literature review all present summaries of sources. Secondly, each summary of a source is short and concise. The main difference is the purpose and way each are presented to the reader.
Literature reviews can be full papers, in their own right, or incorporated into a school paper. Their purpose is to review and tie together previously published research to bolster a writer’s own thesis. Also, the literature review then suggests ways to move research forward or identifies gaps in existing literature.
Preparing a Literature Review
Preparing a literature review is an excellent way for students to learn to find and critically evaluate sources. Students need to make sure they find the most current research on a subject, as well. Once you find sources, you will begin to see the same authors writing on a particular topic. This helps you in your search, as you can then start searching by author name. Databases, such as ProQuest and Science Direct, have tools to help you find current information. You should also look for the original research that sparked the current thread of research.
As you prepare your literature review, look for ways to tie your sources together. You may use in-text citations to back up your points.
An annotated bibliography, like a literature review, can be a section of a research report or stand alone as its own product. Sometimes, teachers will assign annotated bibliographies as a way for students to develop their research and critical evaluation skills.
Unlike a literature review, however, the annotations are formatted in a list. Each source is evaluated on its own, although you may compare and contrast sources in the annotations.
Annotation simply means a note or comment on an item. When you annotate a source, you are making a note or comment on it. Of course, there is more to it than that. Annotations are either a brief summary or an evaluation of the source.
Although there are many similarities among literature reviews, abstracts and annotated bibliographies, each work has its own purpose within the research paper. While this article focuses on literature reviews and annotated bibliographies, abstracts and annotated bibliographies also have similarities.