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How to Start Your Research: A DIY Guide: Understanding Your Assignment

Understanding Your Assignment

Understanding your assignment is the first step in producing a successful research paper or project. The tools in the side column will help you understand and plan out how to complete a research paper/project assignment. Below is a checklist of questions to consider before choosing a topic.

Read your assignment as soon as you get it.

  • -What is the goal or purpose of the assignment?
  • -When is the paper/project due? Are there additional due dates?
  • -What is the length requirement? This will help determine the scope of your paper/project.
  • -Is there a research component?
  • -How many and what types of sources do you need? 
  • -What is the citation style (link to citation guides) and format of your assignment?
  • -What are the grading criteria? Is there a grading rubric?

If you still have questions after working through this checklist, contact your professor for clarification.

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Additional Material

The links below contain an assignment planning guide and a video clip about understanding research papers/projects.


All Bucknell students are welcome to make an appointment with a librarian to consult about their research-related assignments, and to make an appointment with a Writing Center staff member or Peer Writing Consultant to consult about their writing.