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UNV-104 Topic 2 Resource: Reading and Academic Writing Strategies

UNV-104 Topic 2 Resource: Reading and Academic Writing Strategies

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UNV-104 Topic 2 Resource: Reading and Academic Writing Strategies

UNV-104 Topic 2 Resource: Reading and Academic Writing Strategies

Reviewing your Research Selections for your Expository Essay

How to Evaluate Resources

After locating resources in the library, you must evaluate them for use in the completion of your assignment. The following are some criteria you should use when evaluating if a resource is appropriate for use:

· Authority: What makes the source you are using scholarly? Is it peer reviewed? What are the author’s credentials and expertise? Who is the publisher?

· Currency: Are you researching a current topic? Do your resources also reflect a current date of publication?

· Objectivity: Is there bias in your resources? Have you identified articles that present both sides of an argument and have good coverage of the topic?

· Accuracy: Is the research or information presented accurate? Are there references cited? Can you verify the references in the bibliography? Is the writing professional and free of errors?

· Relevancy: Is the resource relevant to your assignment? If so, how will is assist you in completing the assignment requirements?

While you may find scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles on the Internet, often publishers require you to pay for access to the full-text content. The GCU library, on the other hand, has over 46,000 full-text journal titles covering every major academic subject. The library contains quality academic content, including scholarly, peer-reviewed resources. Learning to determine where to find the best kind of information source for your research needs will come with time and practice. Starting with the library can reduce the stress of having to evaluate every aspect of your information sources.

You will still need to evaluate the quality and type of resources you find in the library as not all material in the library are scholarly, peer-reviewed resources. For instance, a newspaper article or an article from a popular magazine might not be scholarly, peer-reviewed. As you gain familiarity with the library you can begin to target those specific resources and utilize tools to narrow your results and increase the relevance of what you find to your specific topic.

Reading Strategies

Now that you have found your resources and evaluated them for use in your expository essay, you need to read and review the resources to retrieve the information you need to complete the assignment. To do this requires active readingThere is a difference between active reading and passive reading, and you need tools that put you into the active reader situation so you become effective and efficient in your reading and comprehending skills (Ellis, 2010). Three reading tools to help you be an effective and efficient reader are muscle reading, speed-reading, and SQ3Rs reading.

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Muscle Reading

There are three main phases to muscle reading, with three steps in each phase. This is one of the most comprehensive reading tools because it allows you to roll up your sleeves and really dig into the reading material.

1. Phase One: Before You Read

a) Step one: preview – skim the material quickly to identify main topics.

b) Step two: outline the main topics and any subtopics.

c) Step three: question – create 2-3 questions you need answered from the material.

Phase Two: While You Read

d) Step one: read actively by reading out loud if possible, standing or walking to engage.

e) Step two: underline main topics and definitions, but no more that 10% of your text.

f) Step three: answer – find answers to the questions you wrote in Phase One.

Phase Three: After You Read

g) Step one: recite – reading your notes or underlined terms out loud helps you utilize auditory learning, which assists memory.

h) Step two: review – create a summary.

i) Step three: review again – combine the summary with the question/answers to further solidify your learning. (Ellis, 2011, p. 124)

While this technique requires more time, it provides good summary material to use for weekly review. Weekly reviews help move learning from short-term memory to long-term memory. Muscle reading is especially helpful for core classes where you need to learn and remember the information for recall in your career.

Quick Reading

The technique of speed reading also requires active reading. Begin by looking at the entire page you are about to read. With a pencil or pen, draw a line down the center of the text. If there are columns of reading, draw a line down the center of each column. With the pen in your hand, touch the pen to one word on each side of the line; nouns and verbs are good choices. Move your hand and pen across each line of text touching a word on either side of the line you drew, until you reach the bottom. It will feel odd at first, but keep practicing (Ellis, 2011). This technique allows you to read a large amount of material quickly; though you may not comprehend the information at the same level you did using the muscle reading technique.

Quick reading is a technique best used for material that may not be critical to your career but is helpful for other things. For example, it is a good technique for reading daily newspapers quickly and gleaning the general idea of the article. It is not a good technique for your core classes because you do not comprehend as much and have no summary for review. Thus, most of this information remains in short-term memory. The technique could be helpful for pre-viewing material in your core classes as long as you return to review and create a summary for review.

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SQ3R Reading

Another reading tool that includes basic techniques for successful textbook and course material comprehension is called SQ3R (Robinson, 1946).

Step One: Survey the material critically by reading main topics out loud. Also, read summaries or conclusions at the end of the sections or chapters. Try to anticipate what the author will say as a way to help you engage and be an active reader.

Step Two: Turn main headings into questions such as, “When is reading tough?” to “What do I do when my reading is tough?” Write out the questions and seek the answers as you read (the next step).

Step Three: Read with the intention of finding answers to your questions and take notes to create a summary for review.

Step Four: Recall what you read by reviewing your notes. Add details where needed to help you remember content.

Step Five: Review your summary to further your learning and move the information from short-term to long-term memory. It is important to spend more time on recall than on reading.

Paraphrasing Strategies

Paraphrasing the ideas of others is a requirement in academic writing, especially research writing. Paraphrasing is using your own words to restate ideas or information from a source material. Paraphrasing will help you grasp the full meaning of the source material and allow you to integrate the source material to support your own ideas and academic writing. Paraphrased material is usually shorter and more concise than the original information. The following are some common guidelines taken from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (2011), which may assist you with learning to paraphrase information gathered from reading materials for use in completing your coursework.

· Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

· Set the original passage aside and, on a note card, write what you think the passage means in your own words (paraphrase).

· Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later of how you plan to use the information. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

· Compare your paraphrase with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information.

· Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phrase you copied exactly from the original source.

· Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can cite it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into a paper or discussion question response.

The following is an example shows both the original passage, and the paraphrased one paraphrasing (Purdue OWL, 2011), which includes proper citation, per APA style, of the original source material.

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The original passage :

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.

Lester, J.D. (1976). Writing Research Papers (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Publishing Clearinghouse.

A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note-taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester, 1976).

Lester, J.D. (1976). Writing Research Papers (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Publishing Clearinghouse.

Annotated Bibliography

After reading through a source, creating an annotated bibliography will help evaluate, understand, and organize the information found. An annotated bibliography is a document that contains notes (annotations) for resources used in research as well as the reference citation for each source. The notes in an annotated bibliography should be paraphrased from the resource and can focus on summarizing, evaluating, or reflecting depending on the project or assignment.

Below is an example of an annotated bibliography:

Brown, O., & Robinson, J. (2012). Resilience in remarried families. South African Journal of Psychology, 42(1), 114-126.

This was a salient research study where the target was to identify and explore the resiliency factors that enable blended families to adjust and adapt. Involved a total of 35 participants: 19 parents and 16 adults. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the biographical information. Correlation analysis was used to analyze the quantitative data; and content analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data. The research found that family hardiness, problem solving, communication, family time and routines showed a positive correlation for both parties. Common themes between the teen and parents such as spirituality, boundaries, communication, flexibility and tolerance also had a strong positive correlation between both. The journal is a peer-reviewed journal. Ottilia Brown is also the author of other academic journal articles such as: “The Coping Orientation and Resources of Teachers Educating Learners with Intellectual Disabilities” and “Resilience in Families Living with a Child Diagnosed with Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder.” Both of the author’s affiliations are with the Department of Psychology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. The article contains chart and graphs of the research study performed to aid in comprehension of the study.

Fogarty, K. F., Ferrer, M. F., & McCrea S. M., (2006). Couples considering a blended family. University of Florida IFAS Extension, 1(FCS2148), 1-6. Retrieved from

The article pertained to couples considering a blended family. Discussed and detailed the life changing steps, family ties, roles that come with a new life, and the roles of the step-parent and the biological parent. Described all the basic information of the change, struggles that may arise, as well as strategies to shift them into a positive direction. At the end of the article, there was a set of questions for the couple to answer, serving as a way to initiate communication on the topics and finding common ground on each other’s beliefs and wants for the new living environment. The document is FCS 2148, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, an Equal Opportunity Institution. The article was revised by Kate Fogarty, PhD., assistant professor, youth development, written by Evelyn Rooks-Weir, former associate professor, Human Development, revised by Millie Ferrer, PhD., associate professor, Human Development, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences. All of the authors have extensive backgrounds in the field.

Gennetian, L. (2005). One or two parents? Half or step siblings? The effect of family structure on young children’s achievement. Journal of Population Economics, 18(3), 415-436. doi: 10.1007/s00148-004-0215-0

Discussed the effect of family structure on young children’s achievement. Targeted two potential sources of bias: misclassification of blended families and the omission of within-family and individual time invariant unobserved characteristics. It compared and contrasted the traditional family structure and the expanded blended family. Looking at the research results, the author concluded that living in a blended family or a single mother family has little to no unfavorable impact on a child’s achievement. The research showed how economic circumstances may prove to be more unfavorable than family structure. Lisa Gennetian is also the author of other related academic journal articles. The Journal of Population Economics is a scholarly and peer-reviewed journal. The article also includes test scores in graphs of children ages 5 to 10 years old, from 1986-1994 to aid in the comprehension of the article.



When you think about it, you use reading and paraphrasing strategies all the time. For instance, when reading course materials, it is important to make connections between the meaning of the reading material, your course learning objectives, your personal experience with the topic, and the completion of course assignments. This is the same process you should be doing when evaluating your sources to help you support your thesis statement…if it does not make sense, reread it, or look for another resource that you can connect the information to the arguments you are making.



Ellis, D. (2011). Becoming a master student (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Joyce, D. (Ed.). (2013). Information Literacy. Phoenix, AZ: Grand Canyon University.

Purdue Online Writing. (2011). OWL: Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words. Retrieved from

Robinson, F. (1946). Effective study. New York, NY: Harper and Bros.


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