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Penrose Library

Religion 448 - Senior Seminar: Annotated Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography consists of a list of citations to books, scholarly articles and other documents on a defined topic, followed by a 1-3 sentence annotation, or brief analysis, of that citation. For senior Religion theses, the citations will follow the Chicago Manual of Style (see the Citing Sources page on this guide for more help with citations).

An annotation differs from an abstract because it does more than summarize.


  • describe the relevance of the citation to the topic 
  • assess the methodology and sources consulted in the article, and their relation to the topic
  • critically describe and evaluate the citation and relate it to other literature covered in the annotated bibliography


Source: David T. Ruina, ed., Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 1997-2006. Vol. 109 (Ledein: Brill Academic, 2011), 35.

Literature Reviews

A literature review is the result of a systematic survey of the scholarly literature on a topic. For a senior thesis in religion, the goal of the literature review is to identify and summarize what conversations, controversies, debates and discussions are ongoing in the scholarly literature that are relevant to your topic. And most importantly, the literature review will help you identify your contribution to the body of literature that you survey.

A Literature Review:

  • has a purpose: it will familiarize you with the research landscape and distinguish what has been done from what needs to be done
  • has a defined scope: your literature in religion review will not be exhaustive, but rather it will be representative, covering the most important literature to your topic
  • has a defined organization: you can group the literature historically, methodologically or conceptually, whichever helps frame your research question most appropriately
  • establishes context and audience: what disciplinary or scholarly communities care about this topic?

Literature Reviews: A Diagram

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