Assignment Research Calculator

Henry Madden Library

Step 1 - Understanding Your Assignment

Key Points
  1. Read your assignment carefully.
  2. Ask for help from your instructor, classmates or a librarian.

Reference Desk

Research assignments will vary depending on the department, the major, the course or the instructor. An assignment can be a paper, an essay, a speech, a personal narrative, a report, part of a group presentation, or many other kinds of projects. There are a few basic things to remember in order to do well on any assignment.


First, read the assignment

Read the assignment description carefully. Some are very detailed and specific, others may allow you lots of freedom to choose your own topic or approach.

Then ask yourself these questions

If you have questions about any of these things, ask! Ask other people in your class or talk to your instructor for more information or clarification. If your assignment allows you to choose your own topic, there is a lot of information to help you in Step 2 "Choose a Topic"

Those are the basics, but here is more detail to help you understand the assignment.

Read the assignment again

Look carefully at the keywords.These keywords help you understand the purpose of the assignment, and what your instructor expects you to do. Are you supposed to research a subject from a variety of sources and present an overview? Analyze how something works, or why it is important? Explain why or how something happened? Take a stand on an issue and argue your point with evidence? Demonstrate how or why something is the truth?

The following is a list of words often used in assignments and their most common meanings. Different words will prompt different approaches in the way you structure your paper.

Link to library reference contact page Ask for help if you are having trouble getting started.