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Research Tips and Tricks

This Tips and Tricks research guide provides information on how to perform a search, ranging from how to choose what type of search to make, how to string key words together, and what to do with texts once you've found them.

Annotate, annotate, annotate!

Annotation, or the act of marking up a document (physically or virtually), allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of a piece of writing. It engages us, keeping our minds from wandering, and forces us to interact with the article. 

When annotating, do the following:

  • Highlight important sections
    • Color code!
      • Here, I use blue for the dependent variable and independent variable hypothesis for the first independent variable, stigma.
      • Yellow in this case marks information about the study parameters, as well as places I have questions.
  • Ask questions
    • These can relate to the questions in the "Evaluating Resources" section of "Remarkable Research" in this guide
    • On your second read, see if the piece answered your questions. 
  • Provide definitions of unknown words
    • as I do here for "dichotomous"
  • Highlight, star, or otherwise mark sections of importance to you
    • Does something confuse?
    • Enlighten?
    • Clarify?

Let yourself dive into the act of questioning, commenting, and marking. To truly understand what we’re reading, we need to engage with it. Annotation takes practice, as do all steps of the research process, and annotation looks different for everyone. I often find myself annotating more each time I read an article. I mark a few things on my first reading, mark more on my second time through, and notice more things on my third reading. Try not to overwhelm yourself with annotations, but take the time to sink into the article.  

I know my example page is difficult to read; instead of looking at the small details (which are what I've described above), focus on the look of the page as a whole. All of your annotation may not be this intense, but it might be. Let yourself dive into the act of questioning, commenting, and marking.