Annotating a bibliography as you do the research increases its power beyond belief. The two extracts below show you how and why this kind of bibliography works. Note that the entries are clearly separated from each other, and are made in chronological order of publication. This has the advantage that you can instantly see how the field developed and who is basing what argument on what previous publication.
What you see below is part of my bibliography for a piece of research in which I planned to challenge the accepted date and attribution of a medieval pectoral cross. The notes have been expanded over several iterations. As you can see, the notes are a mere shopping list, and they cover only the clues I believe I need in my research. As my research develops, therefore, I add more notes to the bibliography.
H P Mitchell, "English or German" A pre-Conquest Gold Cross", Burlington Magazine, vol 47 (1925), 324 ff
(Very useful. Sets the field. Establishes Ottonian filigree and enamels of 980s, Winchester Corpus of c.950. Uniquely, illustrates back of cross. Mentions St Dunstan as craftsman. Suggests inscription may have been list of relics. Suggests too big for pectoral cross, therefore possibly suspended. Suggests further cavities may be under enamels. All later assertions go back to Mitchell.)
Note the comment on how this work relates to the field as a whole. This is a late addition to the notes, which I made after reading more recent publications. When I saw that these publications merely repeated Mitchell, I made the note.
Note also that I have made brief comments listing Mitchell's main points. These are not full notes, which are made and kept separately, but merely a summary to remind me quickly at need.
M Ross, "An Eleventh Century Bookcover", The Art Bulletin, vol 22, no 2 (1940), 83-5
(Sees filigree as Anglo-Saxon, not Ottonian. Source of GASA entry, weak argument)
W Hinckle, "the gift of an Anglo-Saxon Gospel Book to the Abbey of Saint-Remi, Reims", Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol 23 (1970), 23, 21-35, esp 34 note 4
(Relies on Ross, above, and I find it unconvincing)
L Webster, "118: Crucifix Reliquary", Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art, J Backhouse, D Turner, L Webster (eds), London 1984, 117-118
"GASA". Based on Ross, above, but adds that back of cross is Ottonian. Therefore has to allow time for the Ottonian back to get to England, therefore dates the (later) front c.1000, which I find is too late and doesn't match current styles.
Note the connection between these three works, which is made clear in the annotation. Ross set up the English filigree argument, I don't think it's a good one, Hinkle and Webster do think it's a good one. Under Webster, note that in addition to the gist of her argument, I remind myself of its knock-on effect and my objections to it. Note also the setting up and use of abbreviations (GASA).
(From another section of the bibliography)
Th K Kempf, "Benna Treverensis canonicus de Sancti Paulini patricinio", Mainz und der Mittelrhein in der europäschen Kunstgeschichte, Studien für Wolfgang Fritz Volbach zu seinem 70 Geburtstag, FORSCHUNGEN ZUR KUNSTGSCHEICHTE UND CHRISTLICHEN ARCHÄOLOGIE, VI, Mainz 1966, 179-96
(from Hausherr, Rhein und Maas vol 2: Kempf claims that Benna of Trier and Wilton did all the Trier metalwork because he stole the holy nail while making its shrine, therefore he also made the sandal and therefore is also the Gregory Master who later worked for Henry II making the Aachen and Basel antependia. Unconvincing.)
Nordenfalk, "The Chronology of the Registrum Master", Kunsthistorische Forschungel Otto Pacht u seinem 70. Gerburtstag, Salzburg 1972, 66, note 12
(from Hausherr, Rhein und Maas vol 2: H states Nordenfalk follows Kempf (above) in attributing Trier work to Benna only for the Evangelist symbols on St Andrew's sandal. Actually Nordenfalk merely sees the influence of the Gregory Master on the metalwork and makes no connection with him or with Benna.)
R Haussherr, "Die Skulptur des Frühen and hohen Mittelalters am Rhein und Maas", Rhein und Maas, Kunst und Kultur, 800-1400, Berichte, Beitrage und Forschungen, A Legner (ed), Cologne 1973, vol 2, 390-2
("Rhein und Maas vol 2". From Lasko [not included in this specimen bibliography])
Note in this set of three entries, how the last one is clearly the one that led me to the first two. If I later have problems with them, or find that I have misunderstood them, I can easily retrace my steps and put things right. Note that I think Hausherr misrepresented the earlier source. Since he based his argument on that misrepresentation, it is important to have a record of that so that I don't fall into the same trap.
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