Writing the summary
To write an effective summary for an annotation you need to read for the main ideas and write them clearly and concisely in your own words. To avoid unnecessary detail, ask yourself the following questions to focus on the main ideas:
• What point is the author actually making?
• What ideas and evidence are used to support this point?
Follow the way in which each of your readings is organised to write your summary. For example, use the chapter headings of a book or the subheadings of an article as a framework. When you are writing the summary, you do not need to identify the author of the material as you would normally do when summarising or paraphrasing for an essay (See the example below)
Writing the critique
The critique is your critical response to the item you have read and comes after the summary. To write an effective critique you need to draw on all your extended reading of the topic by asking yourself questions like:
• What does it contribute to my understanding of the topic?
• What does it add to the existing field of knowledge?
• How does this item ‘fit in’ with other works on the topic?
• Would I recommend it to someone interested in the course? Why? Why not?
The answers to these questions will form the basis of your critique.
Preparing your final copy
• Revise your draft. Firstly, reconsider the summary and the critique for each item in relation to the others and make any changes. Secondly, proof read and edit your work. For example, you may have thought that the first article you read contained some unusual or original ideas. After reading a number of other texts, you realise that this article ‘fits in’ with the other research in the field.
• Arrange your collection in the order specified or the order you decide on. Unless told otherwise, arrange the sources in alphabetical order according to the authors’ family names.
A book (Harvard style)
Radloff, A., Hermann, A. & Fox, R. 1999 Successful Learning Skills: Your guide to tertiary studies through open, distance and flexible learning, Bobby Graham Publishers, Wagga Wagga.
This book contains strategies to help students studying in the distance mode to become more effective learners and covers areas such as: taking charge of your learning process, achieving your learning goals, becoming a more effective learner and developing your reading and writing skills.
Radloff et al.’s book covers a similar range of topics to many other study skills books. It does, however, focus particularly on the needs of students studying at a distance who will find this a valuable resource for getting started and developing tertiary learning skills. In particular, students returning to study after a long break will find working through the checklists and key questions a useful strategy to identify their strengths as learners.
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