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Research Toolkit: Understanding Assignments

Understanding My Assignment

Understanding Assignments

Getting a research assignment can be a bit scary, especially if you have not written very many research papers! Use the assignment to help decipher what you need to do.

  1. Due Dates: Sometimes an instructor will give you multiple due dates to spread the assignment over a longer term and to help manage the workload. Other times, a single due date will be given. Be sure to look at these deadlines and plan your work accordingly!
  2. Length of research paper: Most assignments will specify how many pages or words a research paper must be. 
  3. Number and type of sources: Sometimes an assignment will list out the requirements for the sources, including the minimum or maximum number of sources used, or the required types of sources that are allowed. For example, an assignment may say to include 5-7 journal articles, 1 book, and no websites.
  4. Style and Format: Information about the style requirements of an assignment, such as MLA or APA, or other information such as font type or size is usually included.
  5. Topic Requirements: You may find guidance about your topic selection in your assignment, such as specifics subjects you should focus on or avoid. For example, you may learn you need to focus on Germany during World War II, but you have an option on what aspect you address, or you may find that you’re not allowed to write about the death penalty.