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Assignment Planning

Assignments Don't Come on Silver Platters

Understand Your Assigment

One of the biggest mistakes a student can make happens right at the beginning of an assignment.

  • Make sure you read the instructions from beginning to end
  • Find out:
    • How long is the assignment supposed to be? 2 pages? 1000 words?
    • Is there an assigned set of topics to choose from? Specific thesis statements? General topic guidelines?
    • Is the type of assignment requested a standard academic essay, a critique, a personal reflection, a literature review, a scientific report? Do you understand the components and voice of the assignment?
    • What sources are acceptable? Are certain types of resources banned? Encouraged? Exclusive?
    • What citation style is required?
    • Are there special formatting requirements?
  • If you are in any doubt about the answers to any of these questions, ask your instructor for clarification! Your instructor is the only authority for the assignment. Your friends and classmates can only guess at what is required.

Have you read and understood your assignment? Time to choose a topic!

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic is much harder than many students realize. Most students - new and old - choose a topic that is too large for the scope assignment.

The truth is, you don't have enough information right at the beginning to make an informed choice. Unless you are assigned a specific thesis statement or a very narrow sub-topic, chances are you will need to revise your topic after doing some initial research.

Coffee industry Too broad
Coffee industry, fair trade Too broad
Coffee industry, fair trade, North Vancouver Too narrow
Coffee industry, fair trade, consumer choice Looks promising

For the initial stages of your assignment, it's OK to have a general topic idea as long as your flexible and curious. Think of a few questions you have about the topic, and use those as a starting point to put together a search strategy.

Have you decided on a topic? Are you ready to start searching? Choose YES!