Annotated Bibliography & Literature Review

On this page...

  • you can learn to make an annotated bibliography

  • you can see a number of examples from a range of subjects

  • you can understand why having an annotated bibliography saves you time later

  • you will find out that ALL EE's need a literature review

  • you are given a template to organize your learning

  • you are given some quotes from the IB EE guide about literature reviews

Annotated Bibliography

EE Hack

Many students assume because they have read a source they should use it but in reality your task as an EE student is to be selective. An annotated bibliography will allow students to put their filters on and improve their evaluative decision-making.

Why Annotate?

  • helps the researcher remain organized

  • helps the researcher compare and contrast sources

  • helps the researcher make the final bibliography with just a few clicks

  • helps the researcher send positive signals to their supervisor, eg in the interim meeting

An Annotated Bib Template

Link to a Google Docs Template

Template for Annotated Bibliography

More examples of what Annotated Bibs look like

Annotated Bibliography Examples

Creating an Annotated Works Cited Page

ALL EE's have Secondary Sources (some have Literature Reviews)


The literature review enables you to say “Evans and Adams have found this’ or ‘There’s a gap here’, or “Bloggs is disagreeing with Smith; I wonder why that is’, or ‘Brown and Jones both say this, but it disagrees with the general scientific view’, or public opinion is disputed by Davies, who says … ‘ … or something else like this.

Before writing about any topic it is useful to find out what has already been said about the topic.

This allows you to:

  1. Better understand the topic

  2. Make a link between your ideas (or methods) and those of others

  3. Consider whether your ideas challenge or support an existing consensus

  4. Situate your views within a context of existing viewpoints

  5. Track any major trends or patterns in terms of interpretation

  6. Allow you to identify the value and limitations of source material

As you do your literature review, you will certainly think about changing your initial research question. This is normal; don’t worry about it.

Lekanides (58)

Example of a literature review for an Extended Essay

Opinions on the subject of the chicken-or-egg controversy appear to show very little agreement, and are therefore inconclusive. Some authors (Giles) argue that it is obvious that chickens came first, as egg farming is a multi-million dollar industry, as a result of eggs popping out of chickens. However, others (Hen) totally disagree, and point out that all eggs would turn into chickens were they not kidnapped and murdered at a young age. Academic research, such as that carried out by Charles Darwin, is equally inconclusive, as he points out that the fossil record is unable to provide a definitive answer, and no humans were witness to either the first chicken or first egg. Darwin points out that at the very least greater research needs to be carried out on this subject. While this research project will seek to uncover a definitive answer, it concedes that such an answer may be impossible. (Carver, 2019)


The Structure of the Literature Review

The Blind Men and the Elephant

The importance of studying the whole picture, cross referencing, and having an open yet critical mind. This famous metaphor helps students grasp the importance of thorough research and the usefulness of a complete literature review.