As I am reviewing sources for my thesis, I am citing my sources in an (APA style) annotated bibliography (as required). However, I am also finding some excellent points from other sources that are either not entirely on-topic or less-empirical (read: poorly referenced). I have (of course) kept track of them.

What is the accepted practice for listing cited works in a thesis? Is it acceptable to have an annotated bibliography, as well as a list of "additonal works cited?" Or should they all be listed (with annotations) consistently in one section?

I have posed this question to my adviser, but I would also like to hear from others as well.

3 Answers 3


I agree that reference formatting for a thesis tends to follow university and discipline specific guidelines. In my experience, theses also tend to have a little more flexibility than other documents, because the university often has to provide guidelines that are relevant to research students from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds.

That said, if you are using APA style referencing, then you may wish to follow APA style guidelines more generally. I have not seen annotated bibliographies in APA style. Rather, if you cite a work, then it is added to the reference list. You can cite a wide range of works including popular-science and other works of less rigour. You generally don't cite works that you simply used as background reading, unless you can weave the reference into a specific citation.

In APA style, all references are typically combined into a single section at the end of the work. An exception can occur in the case of book chapters, particularly where each chapter has been written by different authors, where separate reference lists often occur at the end of each chapter.


I think the answer to your question is very dependent on your subject and the culture of that research area. In my area, math, I've never seen an annotated bibliography as part of the thesis. I've probably only looked at 15 or 20 theses, but I've never seen one. In other areas (humanities and social sciences?), I suspect such a bibliography is more par for the course.


Generally thesis formatting questions are answered by someone at the the institutional level. At my institution, deviations from the proscribed format were not permitted. You should verify with your institution what the guidelines are. The academic merit of this approach may be a secondary concern. Usually the person who is in charge of this can be found working for your institution's library.

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