Question Everything

After surveying your text, ask yourself some questions prior to reading. What questions do you have about the subject matter you’re about to read? What does the title of the text suggest? What does the author want to tell you about this subject? What’s the most important information on each page? Asking these types of questions will focus your mind on the text, and will help you pay attention. If you start to daydream, ask more questions and try to answer them.


Survey Your Text

Prior to reading, take a few moments to scan through your text. Get an overall feeling for how much you’re going to read, and how the text is sectioned off. It helps to read through all the headings and any thesis or conclusion statements during this time. This will help you understand the point of the reading prior to beginning.
If you’d like to improve your reading comprehension, try the SQ3R method. This is an acronym that means: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.


Quickly Skim Over the Filler

No matter what you’re reading, there is frequently a lot of filler that you can read quickly through or even skim over. With practice, you’ll be able to identify the most important parts of a book as you skim through it. When you get to such a passage, just slow down. Before you begin a chapter or book, look over the entire piece very quickly. Try to find patterns of repeated words, key ideas, bold print and other indicators of important concepts. Then, when you actually do your reading you may be able to skim over large portions of the text, slowing only when you come to something you know is important.


Don’t Read to Yourself

As you read you probably subvocalise, or pronounce the words to yourself. Almost everybody does it, although to different degrees: some people actually move their lips or say the words under their breath, while others simply say each word in their heads. Regardless of how you subvocalise, it slows you down. (You are concerned with speed reading here, not reading to practice communicating the material verbally, which can be done later if you find it necessary.)
To break the habit, try to be conscious of it. When you notice yourself pronouncing words to yourself, try to stop doing it. It may help to focus on key words and skip over others, or you may want to try humming to yourself in order to prevent subvocalising. One exercise to stop your lips from moving is to put one of your fingers or a long but safe object (for example, a pencil) into your mouth and keep it there while you read.


Read Blocks of Words

Nearly everyone learned to read word-by-word or even letter-by-letter, but once you know the language, that’s not the most efficient method of reading. Not every word is important, and in order to read quickly, you’ll need to read groups of words – or even whole sentences or short paragraphs – instantaneously. Once you make an effort to be aware of your reading style, you’ll discover how many words you read at a time. Now you just need to increase that number. Using your hand as a guide may help, as to holding the book a little further from your eyes than you usually do.


Read with Your Hand

Smooth, consistent eye motion is essential to speed reading. You can maximize the efficiency of your eyes by using your hand to guide them. One such method is to simply draw your hand down each page as you read. You can also brush your hand under each line you read, as if you are brushing dust off the lines. Your eyes instinctively follow motion, and the movement of your hand serves to keep your eyes moving constantly forward. Note, however, that many speed reading instruction books warn off using a tracking member in speed reading as it inhibits the process. Use this to enhance your speed but try not to become dependent on using your hand or fingers.


Develop a Great Thesis Statement

Once you’re relaxed, it’s time to focus your attention on writing a great thesis statement. Your thesis statement is what will keep your research and writing on topic. This is the most important part of your paper. Spend some time reading thesis statements in Google Scholar or whatever journal article database you have access to.
Use whatever you find as a springboard for writing your own argument. Make sure to save citations and quotes from any relevant journal articles you find.


Revision Phase: Editing Never Ends

Revising means removing and adding contents to make the paper better. It means that nobody is ever really done. They just turn in our last and best draft. Here are some editing steps:

  •  Read it aloud and mark any areas that don’t sound right
  •   Look at all the punctuation marks especially apostrophes
  •  Make sure every paragraph moves the paper along
  •   Eliminate passive verbs whenever possible

So that’s a basic strategy on how to write a research paper. Although writing a paper is never completely done, but these steps can help to get a paper finished.


Drafting Phase: Writing

Once you’ve written your thesis statement and have completed the outline, it’s time to begin working on your first draft. Here are the steps that you can consider to take:

  •  Just start writing something (typically start in the middle somewhere)
  •   Make sure to cite everything (go overboard just to be safe)
  •  Keep refining the thesis
  •   Keeping modifying the outline
  •   Pretend the paper is due the next day and just finish it
  •   Take a day off after the first draft is done don’t look at it

Organizing Phase: Reading and Writing

As you review your journal articles, jot down everything you need from the article before moving on; including: citation info, potential quotes, summaries, and any referenced journal articles that look interesting. Also:

  •  Develop a potential thesis statement
  •   Create a substantial bibliography
  •   Outline your paper
  •   Insert notes within your outline
  •   Add references