Content last reviewed:
I need help to understand my assignment
Here are things to look for in the assignment instructions:
- Read your assignment carefully. There's nothing worse than setting out in the wrong direction!
- Purpose of the assignment. What should your research project accomplish? What is the role of research and of information sources in the assignment? This will help you determine your research process and timeline. (If you still have questions after closely reading the assignment, ask your instructor.)
- Topic guidance and suggestions. Some instructors offer specific suggestions, while others provide guidelines to help you choose a topic yourself. Check for points and questions the instructor wants you to address in your assignment. For help, visit Choosing an Essay Topic.
- Type(s) of recommended sources for supporting your research. Think about where you might need to look for the recommended sources. For more help see What Types of Sources I Need and Appropriate Sources to Use.
- Due date. This will help you determine when you need to start finding sources, reading and analyzing them, and developing your paper or project. Some assignments have different parts due at different times, so check all the due dates.
- Length of the assignment. This will help you determine the scope of your topic.
- Style and formatting information, such as font size, spacing, and citation style. Do you need help citing or using sources?
Highlight or underline the elements that are key to understanding your assignment. If you cannot describe what your assignment is about to someone else, re-read the assignment sheet or talk with your instructor. When seeking assistance from a librarian, it will be helpful to have your assignment requirements on hand.