April 9, 2012
Research

How to Prepare for a Research Assignment

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. This week in April is often a time when college students across the country are working on writing and research projects.

If you’re working on a research project, the College Hill Library at Front Range has some tips to help you. Remember, your campus library and writing center are designed to help you navigate the research process.

 1. Understand your assignment.

Some assignments can feel overwhelming. But when you break them down into separate pieces, it can make it more manageable. Check out this online video for help identifying the different parts of your assignment and for tips to help you succeed in completing it. Remember to ask your instructor any questions you may have about the assignment.

2. Plan your time.

The George Mason University has an “assignment calculator” that may be of use in helping you plan time to work on your assignment. Research and writing are not linear processes so it is a good idea to allow some extra time.

3. Select and focus your topic.

Conducting background research will help you to find more information about your topic ideas. At this stage, you may begin to narrow your topic or decide there is not enough credible information published about your topic. This stage is a great time to visit your campus library or writing center. The professionals there can answer questions you may have about focusing your topic or finding preliminary resources for your topic.

4. Conduct research and begin to organize your thoughts.

Many times, conducting in-depth research happens simultaneously with the writing and/or organizing process. For example, you may conduct research, find a few appropriate sources and begin to use them in an annotated bibliography. Or, you may begin writing and realize you need a source to strengthen your claim or help clarify a concept. This is a great time to consult a librarian for help locating sources. This is also a great time to check in with either your instructor or a writing center tutor if you feel like you could use some writing guidance. Additionally, don’t wait until the last minute to work on your citations! Gather the information you need to create citations at this step in the process.

5. Revise, rewrite, proof.

Take time to proofread your work. Or, work with a writing center tutor to proofread you work. This will ensure you turn in a polished, well-written assignment.

 

What tips do you have for conducting a research assignment?

 

 

About the author:

Courtney Bruch was a Reference/Instruction Librarian at Front Range Community College's Westminster campus.