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Research Toolkit: Understand Your Assignment

Tools, techniques, and resources to help you find the information you need.

Make sure to read your assignment instructions carefully. Here is what to look for:

Check for the due date and put it in your calendar or planner. This will help you manage your time. Some assignments have different parts due at different times. Make sure you check all of the due dates! 


The length of the assignment, which could be listed in pages, word count, or even minutes for a presentation. The length of the assignment will help you determine the scope of your topic; 


Style and formatting information, such as font size, spacing, and citation style.  


The number of and type(s) of outside sources that your instructor requires to support your research.  Think about where you might need to look for the different types of sources. Sometimes your instructor will leave the type of sources you use up to you. In that case make sure you choose the right information source for your need.

Topic guidance and suggestions. Some instructors will offer specific suggestions while others will just provide basic guidelines to help you choose a topic. Check for points and questions that the instructor wants you to address in your assignment. 


Never hesitate to ask your instructor for clarification if you don't understand the assignment.