How to Write a Good Nursing Annotated Bibliography

Written by Brandon L.
January 28, 20238 min read

As part of evidence-based practice, a successful nurse should be able to find and evaluate evidence. You can achieve that by looking for empirical nursing articles from nursing databases.

In many cases, you will be assigned to research peer-reviewed articles from the library and write an annotated bibliography that culminates into a nursing research paper, essay, term paper, concept analysis paper, policy analysis paper, dissertation, or nursing capstone project. And for many nursing students, especially those writing an annotated bibliography for the first time, the entire process can be scary.

In this guide, our online nursing essay experts take you through the process of writing a perfect nursing annotated bibliography so that you get it right on the first attempt.

What is a Nursing Annotated Bibliography?

The purpose of writing a nursing annotated bibliography is to search for relevant research related to your general, EBP, or PICOT topic and present a formal analysis of each source in regard to how it helps you explore the topic in question.

It is a combined list of citations to books, articles, and other scholarly sources followed by a summary (annotations); usually, about 150-200 words, that describes, synthesizes, and evaluates the source.

 The annotated bibliography informs the reader about the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, quality, and purpose of the sources used in writing a paper.

Nursing students at BSN, MSN, and DNP might be required to write an annotated bibliography before writing an essay, term paper, or research paper.

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

There are two primary components of an annotated bibliography: citation and annotation.

The citation provides information about the source's author, title, date, source, and publisher. The citations are formatted mainly in APA (APA 6 of 7), AMA, ASA, or Harvard format.

The annotation refers to the concise and informative description that summarizes and evaluates the contents of the resource. Let?s assume you are writing an essay about pediatric pain management for kids with cancer, and you find a source like Pediatric pain treatment and prevention for hospitalized children; you will first cite the source in APA format as demonstrated in the next sections of this guide.

In about 150-200 words, you will explain more information about the source, including its significance and relevance to your essay. We will use the source above to do this practically as an example.

In a nutshell, the annotation should contain the following:

Let?s put everything to place as an example to see how a good annotated bibliography should be written in the nursing class context. Many students panic when assigned to write such a paper, but it is easy if you get the facts right.

Example of a Nursing Annotated Bibliography

Taking the example of the source we mentioned before, the annotated bibliography will appear in your paper as below:

Friedrichsdorf, S.J. and Goubert, L. (2020) ?Pediatric pain treatment and prevention for

hospitalized children,? PAIN Reports, 5(1). Available at:

This peer-reviewed journal by Friedrichsdorf Stefan and Goubert Liesbetd looks into how to address the prevention and treatment of acute and chronic pain in children [Authority]. Friedrichsdorf Stefan is a pain management specialist working with various healthcare organizations, including Benioff Children?s Hospital in Oakland and San Francisco, CA. Goubert Liesbetd works at the department of Experimental-clinical and Health Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium [Information about the authors]. The authors intended to evaluate pain management strategies, including pain caused by needles, through analgesic starting doses [Purpose of the Journal Article]. Having reviewed the best evidence-based practice [Methodology], the authors concluded that it is imperative to implement evidence-based pain prevention and treatment strategies for children in medical facilities [Summary of the Findings]. Specifically, they recommend using multimodal analgesia administered through an interdisciplinary rehabilitative approach. As for needle pain, topical analgesia, sucrose or breastfeeding, age-appropriate distraction, and comfort positioning are highly recommended. The article is timely, descriptive, and evidence-based and informs my topic about pain management for pediatric patients in the hospital for cancer treatment and care [Evaluation].

Steps for Writing a Good Nursing Annotated Bibliography

Now that you are assigned to write an annotated bibliography for your nursing class, you should follow the process below to arrive at an annotated bib paper that will score highly and facilitate you in writing a good nursing EBP research paper, concept analysis paper or nursing essay. Below are the steps:

1. Read the instructions

Usually, your professor or instructor will give you a document highlighting how to prepare the annotated bibliography assignment. You should read it keenly because it offers guidance on the appropriate style and other essential aspects to consider. If you are a BSN, MSN, or DNP student, you should prepare the paper in APA or Harvard style, depending on your university's requirements or preferred style. It will help if you look into the assignment rubric to write a paper that scores the highest grade possible by putting everything as per your professor's expectations.

2. Choose a Relevant Topic

Having internalized the instructions, you need to develop a good nursing topic. Check out our list of evidence-based nursing topics. We also have an entire article on debate topics in nursing, epidemiology, and informatics topics, and you can also look at your course readings and topic suggestions from the professor. You might be needed to write a PICOT question or statement and get it approved before doing the annotated bibliography. Whatever comes first, choose a manageable topic so that you can find relevant scholarly nursing journal articles from reliable nursing journals such as PubMed, OVID, or BMC.

Related Article: nursing theories to include in a nursing paper.

3. Research Widely and Identify the Best Sources

Conduct a library search for scholarly research and articles related to your topic. If possible, limit your search to identify the empirical nursing articles published within the last five years. Go through the abstracts of the empirical studies to determine if they are credible, current, accurate, authoritative, and relevant to your topic. Does it answer your proposed PICOT question or research question? Is the methodology right? Consider getting the highest level of evidence in nursing, such as Systematic Reviews,  RCTs, meta-analyses of RCTs, or experimental nursing studies. Check Cochrane, DARE, Ovid MEDLINE, and PubMed for meta-analyses and systematic reviews.

4. Write the Annotation

Once you have located the appropriate number of empirical research articles that relate to your proposed PICOT question, research question, or nursing topic, write an annotation for each article.

You must generate the full citations in A-Z as they appear in your reference list and then write the relevant annotations. Citations should be in APA or Harvard referencing styles, and the annotation should then follow. Each annotation should concisely summarize the article's central theme and scope. You should also evaluate the background of the author or authority. You should also, in your annotation, include a comment on the intended audience and compare or contrast the work with others in your list. Lastly, indicate the relevance of the source in illuminating your bibliography topic.

5. Polish and Submit

The last step in writing an annotated bibliography is to edit and proofread the essay to correct all the errors and check for omissions. Polish the paper to meet your university or college's writing level requirements and standards. Some universities use LOPES write, SafeAssign or Turnitin to submit nursing assignments, be keen that your annotated bibliography has low similarity or plagiarism. If anything, only the citations should have similarities, but the annotations should have zero plagiarism.

The Bottom Line

Nursing annotated bibliographies like nursing papers are formatted mostly in APA in American nursing colleges and universities. If you are taking nursing courses in Australia or the UK, most of your papers will be formatted in Harvard, and so do your nursing papers (essays, case studies, QI reports, term papers, dissertations, and capstone projects).

Remember, an annotated bibliography contains reference list entries with short annotations, which should be alphabetical and double-spaced. Besides, the sources used should be empirical and related to the research paper or nursing assignment you will write after approval.

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