Its All in the Annotation

Most of my brainstorming happens through annotation while reading. When I read any article, I mark it up like crazy. I underline salient points and put complex sentences in my own words. I compile lists of concepts. I compare the concepts in the article and then link them to ideas from outside reading or from class discussion. I make note of questions I would like to ask the author and points that I would like to research further. At the end of the article, I often write something like, “The article answers _____ but fails to answer _____.” This process usually leads me to a broad (and often amorphous) research question. Once I have that question, I can do more research. And of course, I annotate any article that I read. After I have read a number of articles that pertain to the research question, I look at all the annotations from all the articles and try to find patterns. After that, I usually can come up with some sort of argument that I want to prove — often not my final argument — but I will have some idea of where I am going.

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1 Comment »

  • Vanessa says:

    Reading this makes me incredibly jealous of your organization/diligence when reading. I always regret not annotating what I’ve read later on, when I’m scrambling to find a quote when writing a paper or during discussions!


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