As your instructor assigns you a research assignment, the first thing you will want to do is take note of all the elements related to the research process.
Look for the following elements of your assignment:
Type of Essay
Scope of Topics
Can you choose your own topic, or choose from a focused area of study?
APA, MLA or Chicago?
Length of Essay
This can help determine both the scope of your topic and your research
Number of Sources
Your instructor may require a set range of research sources and/or require a set number of sources of different types
Required Source Types
Use of library databases, books, peer-reviewed journal articles
When is the final assignment due? Is there a rough draft? Do you need to choose a topic by a specific date?
Start your research early!
Your assignment will be uniquely created by your instructor and may or may not include elements listed above. Consult with your instructor for clarification concerning the required elements of your essay.
Knowing your assignment’s requirements will help keep you focused throughout the research process.
Don't be afraid to mark up your assignment instructions. Highlight, underline or circle key information to refer back to. Take notes on the assignment instructions. Did your instructor explain the assignment more thoroughly in class? Did they clarify some of the requirements? Did they make additional comments about their expectations for the assignment?
Examples for how to decipher a research assignment:
Check out your citation style guide: