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Respiratory Care: Annotated Bibliographies/Literature Search

Annotated Bibliography Video

Steps to creating Annotated Bibs ...

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents.

Each citation is followed by a brief (about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph called "the annotation". The annotation informs the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources.


Here are common steps to writing the annotation:

Write about the author. (1 sentence)
Is this a professor? Professional in the field? A reporter? 
Explain what the article is about. (1-3 sentences)
What is in the article? Don’t rewrite the article but base facts and important notes.
Explain how this article adds to your research topic. (1-2 sentences)
What about this article makes it relevant? Why did you select it? What makes this article stand out among others?
Compare or contrast this work with another you have cited. (1-2 sentences)
How does this article relate to another article in your annotated bibliography? Do they agree or not? Why not?

MeSH Subject Headings

MeSH, an abbreviation of Medical Subject Headings, is the National Library of Medicine's thesaurus of medical terms used to index articles from biomedical journals for the MEDLINE®/PubMED® database. In MEDLINE/PubMed, every article is indexed with 10-15 headings and subheadings.

The medical terms, called MeSH descriptors, are arranged in an alphabetic and a hierarchical structure. The hierarchical structure is referred to as the MeSH Tree and is organized into 16 main categories, or branches.

The first branch of the MeSH tree is Anatomy with subheadings Body regions, Musculoskeletal system, Digestive system, Respiratory system, etc. PubMed automatically searches the MeSH headings and more specific terms beneath that heading in the MeSH hierarchy. This is known as the explosion feature.

Some terms occur in more than one place in the hierarchy. For example, "Eye" appears under the Anatomy branch, but also under the Sense Organs branch.

Here is a portion of the MeSH Tree structure for abdominal pain:

Diseases [C]

     Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms [C23]

                           Signs and Symptoms [C23.888]

                                Pain [C23.888.646]

                                     Abdominal Pain [C23.888.646.100]

                                          Abdomen, Acute [C23.888.646.100.200]

                                          Colic [C23.888.646.100.600]

                                          Renal Colic [C23.888.646.100.800]

What does this mean?
A search of PubMed using the term "abdominal pain" will produce more relevant results than using the term "stomach ache."


Using the thesaurus or index terms, also called a controlled vocabulary and takes the guess work out of searching. Since we have many different ways of describing concepts, drawing these terms together under a single word or phrase in a database makes searching the database more efficient.

Conducting a search in a database that uses controlled vocabulary or indexing terms is efficient and precise.Once you do find the correct term, most of the information you need is grouped together in one place, saving you the time of having to search under all of the other synonyms for that term.