I’m a citation weakling

I’m getting my head around writing for graduate studies, but I don’t think I’m using citations the way I probably should be to really provide effective support for arguments I’m making.

Maybe it’s my process. I just completed a paper that, while it didn’t have to be academic writing in the truest sense, still did require a minimum number of citations and all references to be formatted as per APA standards. I don’t mind any of that and, since I like what I read to generally be based on fact and forceful arguments (as opposed to, let’s say, claiming you get foreign policy because you can see Russia from your house) I certainly want my own writing to be logical and supported.

However, I find that my process for literature review and citation is weak. With this particular paper it didn’t help that I changed my mind significantly on the premise and rewrote most of it late in the game. However, that simply highlights the need to solidify my premise early on and then thoroughly read a wide variety of literature with enough time to craft it into my writing as fluidly as possible.

What I find I’m doing generally, though, is not reading the literature thoroughly enough. I write something, scan journal articles when I need support and pull appropriate pieces out. However, I’m just not sure how to do more reading in the available time. I’ve got solid tools to help and I probably have to incorporate their use more religiously.

So … what do you do to, not only, keep your references organized, but to get through an appropriate volume of literature to get the right references in the first place, and pursuasively weave the citations into your writing?