Annotating a Scientific Paper

By Karin Akre, Hunter College

Description #

Students annotate a scientific paper in order to help the entire class digest this dense style of writing. They become familiar with the format of these important papers by stopping to annotate words or phrases with definitions, images, connections or questions. By the time everybody has annotated the paper, a student can read through and learn from everyone’s contributions.

Specifically, students are asked to make three annotations: They add two brief clarification aids, such as definitions or images, and one more substantial contribution of making a connection to something they have learned or asking a question about how this point connects to something they have learned. Students are asked to read through the paper twice, once while annotating, and again later to read other students’ annotations.

Overview #

Reading scientific papers is tough. But once you’ve gotten used to them, they make a lot of sense – they all organize the information according to the scientific method. Annotating as a group should help you get used to things. I’ll be curious to see whether the group annotation articles make more sense to you than the others that we’ll read. Let me know!

Assignment #

Read the article! When you find parts that confuse you, look up what it means or refers to and create an annotation. If someone has already annotated it, click and read the annotation.

To annotate, highlight the text you are annotating, click the dialogue icon, and a sidebar will open up for your annotation. To add images, click on the image icon in the tool bar. Your image will need to have a URL.

NOTE: HIGHLIGHT AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Focus in on the specific word or phrase you want to define or explain. You can annotate a word or phrase within someone else’s highlighted area.

Create two annotations that provide facts (definitions, explanations, etc) or images (maps, animals, etc), and one that adds an insight (connect to another field or another topic) or asks a question.

Ideally the annotations should help you understand the article. It’s tricky because the first people to annotate won’t get as much out of it… So you should do one read early on, and make your annotations at this time. Then, at the end of the week go back to read the article again – it will be much easier with all the annotations! At the very least, studying the article again for tests will be a time you can take advantage of all the annotations.

License #

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license