I come from a land of plenty…

A little theme music for this one. Let’s talk about finding too much good stuff.

So in today’s annotated bibliography post, I covered two extremes in my research. Both were collections of essays and articles, yet one was a dead end and the other was the exact opposite. Before I dive in much further, let’s recap my research process so far.

  1. Spend a couple of days searching several databases. Scan abstracts and save whatever articles have potential to a Google doc. As you uncover terminology and key words, refine the search. Continue this until your eyes bleed and your head hurts.
  2. With an expansive document of potential sources begin exploring each article in depth to determine how useful it is. Be prepared to throw out a lot of early stuff.
  3. Anything that seems perfectly suited to your thesis gets moved into a secondary document called a quote log.
  4. When the initial survey of research is done, move into the quote log and begin finding specific evidence. This log allows you to have a complete, accurate citation in addition to recording evidence and annotating it for use in the larger research project.

Not a bad system, right? It’s saved my ass a number of times in my classes. As of right now I am currently deep into the process of step 3. So then, let’s talk about today’s annotated bibliography.

During step one I began with barely any sort of conception of what I was after. I wasn’t even entirely aware of IF (interactive fiction), so when I began searching I started with “electronic fiction,” which, of course, if you have followed the annotated bibliographies, is an entirely separate deal from IF. As I searched over the course of two days I was able to refine and hone in my search through picking out terminology and using related categorization in the database whenever I could. The further I moved into my thesis research the more relevant the potential sources became. That, of course, leads to ebooks and conference proceedings. These are the research jackpot.

So today I had to look over two large collections of work. One is an ebook (though not the first ebook I’ve covered) while the other is a collection of papers from a conference. The first ebook did not seem super relevant, but the conference collection? Oh boy…

Göbel, Stefan, Rainer Malkewitz, and Ido Iurgel (Eds). Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment: Third International Conference, TIDSE 2006, Darmstadt, Germany, December 4-6, 2006. Proceedings. Springer, 2006, DOI: 10.1007/11944577.

I want to emphasize that this is not a correct MLA 8 citation. This is merely a placeholder because I will need to cite the specific papers within as their own bibliographic entries. This collection has a good 10 or so papers that I feel are very useful to what I am doing. So what am I to do when one source becomes 10 or more during my 3rd stage of research?

Basically, all I am going to do for now is slot the current citation and annotation into the quote log and move on. Keep in mind my initial research run netted me over 80 or so potential articles that I need to whittle down around the start of the Fall semester. As a result, because of how useful this collection of conference papers appears, I feel confident enough in just setting it aside for now and coming back to it. That’s perfectly reasonable, in my opinion. Sure, I have a wide array of material to potentially pull from with this collection of conference papers, but I would argue my time is better spent, right now, pulling from the wider and more diverse array of potential articles in my current research pool.

One source blowing up to ten or more potential sources is a nice problem to have. Initially it felt overwhelming, but the research process I have set up for myself really has come through for me regarding curve-balls such as this.


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