How To: Analyze an Article (+ Write a Paper on it)


I'm pretty sure we have all been here: your professor tells you to read an article and write a paper on it -usually with a prompt - and then you have no idea how to start. I have been through this SO many times and I've come up with a simple formula and way to read and write a paper in about a week (or sooner depending on the due date) that works perfectly for me:

  1. Get the paper the day the Professor assigns it/at least a week or two before it's due.
  2. Look at the prompt/rubric given to you for the paper.
  3. Read it with a pencil/highlighter in your hand and highlight anything of interest that could help you with your paper.
  4. After you have finished reading the paper, pull out all the information you highlighted and begin to organize it. This is also where you should finalize your argument and decide how you want to answer the prompt.
  5. Write an outline. Typically for me this involves moving all of the highlighted information into bullet points under "argument 1" "argument 2" etc. and adding notes on filler in the structure.
  6. Write your paper. Take the outline and start turning everything into sentences. I usually leave my introduction for last and instead do the body and then conclusion first.
  7. Don't forget in-text citations! If you forgot to do this you should be able to go back and find everything fairly easily in your article because most of it should have been highlighted.
  8. Read through your paper and give it a cursory look through for grammar and readability. I like to read my paper aloud to check for this.
  9. Read it again to make sure it satisfies all of the requirements your professor gave you.
  10. Have some one else read it, correct it, and then check to make sure it is formatted correctly.
  11. Submit it!

I've found that this process works really really well for me but of course each person learns/works differently so make sure to tweak it/use it in a way that works best for you!