Plans for preparation

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Brainstorm, Pedagogy, School, writing

My exams are coming up. Slowly. In fact, very slowly. I will have to take them around this time two years from now. But it’s not too early to start planning.

I bring this up because I’ve been working on annotated bibliographies lately. Which was difficult, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever really learned how to write them. What goes in the annotations?

This is a question answered during an undergraduate career, normally. So once in graduate school, it’s expected (fairly) that one would know how to do this. The problem is that annotations are different field to field. So I’ve had to essentially work blindly, hoping to get things right.

While doing so, I’ve talked to a lot of people about the purpose of annotations. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels uncertain about what goes in them.Some people said that an annotation was a representation of the argument in the piece. Some said it was a description of the piece for someone who hasn’t read it, so they know whether or not they should. Others said it was just a description for the writer, so that he knows what each source was later on.

I don’t know which of these is true, but the last one caught my attention. A lot of the entries in this blog are long annotations designed to let me come back and read those rather than re-reading the entire source. That was the point. Which brings me to the exams.

I have a list of works. Some of them I’ve read. Some I haven’t. But if I can go through all of them and compile a detailed annotated bibliography, it should at the very least help me study. More likely, it will turn out to be useful in future research.

I’m considering compiling it all into a database, and organizing either by topic, by author, or both. This is a project for the end of the semester, but it’s not too soon to be thinking about it.

The more I can get done when motivated, the less of a problem it is when I lose motivation.

  1. Lee-Ann says:

    Brilliant insight, Joe, on the annotated bib use for exam preparation. I would highly advocate that, and hopefully this journal gives you a start on that.

    Also, I view all your suggested definitions of annotated bibliographies as very similar. It is basically an explanation of a source for readers who are unfamiliar with the source. It is a collection of summaries, and they serve as a touch stone for readers.

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