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Psychology: Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review

Online and print resources for Psychology students.

Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography

The purpose of a literature review is to provide an overview of existing academic literature on a specific topic and an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s arguments. You are summarizing what research is available on a certain topic and then drawing conclusions about the topic.

An annotated bibliography is a list of resources that you have gathered on a topic that includes an annotation following the reference.  Like a References list, annotated bibliographies gather all resources discovered in the research process in one document. Each citation in the bibliography is followed by an annotation, a summary of that source.

An annotated bibliography is different from a literature review because it serves a different purpose. Annotated bibliographies focus on sources gathered for a specific research project. A literature review attempts to take a comprehensive approach to evaluate all of the research available on a particular question or a topic to create the foundation for a research paper. This review is often incorporated at the beginning of a research paper in its own section but it may also form the thesis for the paper.

Or as the University of North Alabama puts it "An annotated bibliography examines each source based on its relationship to the topic; a literature review draws together multiple sources to examine where they agree or disagree."

Comparison Chart


Literature Review Example