by Sydni Hammar
A wise professor once told me, “Any time you’re trying to figure out how long something will take to do, take the amount of time you think it will take, and multiply that number by six.”
I have found this to be true time after time. If you care about getting work done correctly the first time around, expect to invest ample time from the start.
I put this idea into practice recently when I was given the assignment to thoroughly annotate 20 sources as part of some initial research for my capstone. Here are specific tools I use for doing thorough annotations, which take time, but are incredibly worth it:
- Print each article out and ACTUALLY annotate the text by hand. (ex. Ask questions in the margins, paraphrase the thesis of the article, highlight key sections/sentences). If you don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up and write it in the margin!
- After you go through the annotation process, take a break! But don’t just scroll through Facebook or Instagram—really give your mind space to absorb the information you just read. So, go for a walk, do some yoga—or whatever else works for you!
- When you come back to write your annotation, go through the article again. This time, pay attention to your marginal comments, weave in quotes you underlined, and make sure you articulate the thesis and main points of the article.
This process may seem like a lot of work, but it is work that will ultimately save you so much time. A thorough annotated bibliography is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself as you write a research paper.
Sydni Hammar is a senior majoring in English, and works as an editor for Mistake House, a student-run literary magazine at Principia College.