It’s rather ironic that my final piece of work for the PGDip was a presentation explaining what I’d learned in preparing my research portfolio with particular emphasis on the multi-disciplinary nature of Victorian Studies, given I wasn’t technically a Victorian Studies student.
Despite this I think my presentation went well: if nothing else I made them laugh by comparing the multi-disciplinary approach to a bowl of spaghetti – whichever strand you pick up four others come attached and everything gets messy!
I also found the reflective process useful to think about what I had learned over the past year and wanted to share the one skill I know I’ll come back to in the future.
The Annotated Bibliography:
While I’m used to putting together a bibliography for academic work, and have even progressed to typing it up as I go along rather than in a panic an hour before my deadline, this was the first time I was asked to produce an annotated bibliography. (I should clarify here that I was asked to provide a normal bibliography in addition to a short annotated bibliography of key texts, not to annotate the whole thing.)
The idea is simple – under the citation for the article or book, include a brief summary of the key arguments and indicators of useful chapters for your work. This makes it easy to find the articles you want to quote, to discard ones that become irrelevant when your research takes a different turn, or, as happened to me, find the article that suggested new possibilities for your research. Although it may seem counterintuitive to add to the amount of reading and writing you have to do, I found that this process allowed me to scan many potential sources, and then go back and only take more in-depth notes on the ones I actually needed.
Study skills always sound great in theory, but it takes a while to find out which ones work for you. While I’m planning a hiatus from formal study for a while, I look forward to breaking out this skill when I get the chance.