Congratulations! You've done the hardest part - you've recognized that you need help getting started!
It's important to remember that research is a process - it can take a long time and sometimes you might need to repeat a step a few times, or even start over before you get it right. That's okay - that's a normal part of the process.
Graham, Rebecca. "The Research Process: The Journey from Idea to Finished Paper" YouTube, uploaded July 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z55FTmn5uh0
Grab your assignment and highlight the following key parts of a research assignment:
Due date: Knowing when your assignment is due will help you structure your research and create a timeline for your work.
Length of the assignment: This will help you determine the scope of your topic. A shorter paper needs a more focused topic. A longer paper may need more background or more in-depth research, depending on the assignment.
Purpose of the assignment: Are you supposed to critique, annotate, analyze, synthesize, or something else? These all mean different things and you need to understand what is expected of you before you begin.
Topic guidance: Sometimes professors provide a list of suggested topics or guidance about what a good topic or research question looks like. This can help you to know you are on the right track.
Types of sources: It is important to know what types of sources you are looking for so you don't waste time, or end up with sources that "don't count". Look for phrases like "academic book", "journal article", "peer-reviewed", "empirical research", or "primary/secondary source".
Grading Criteria: Think about what is needed for your assignment to be considered "high-quality" while you are doing your research, and double-check your final work against that list before you turn it in to make sure you’re not missing any points.
Style and formatting: It's best to set up your paper using the correct style at the beginning. Writing down your sources in the proper citation format when you find them, or as soon as you decide to use them, will help you when it's time to use those citations in your paper.
If you couldn't find information for one of these categories, ask your professor for clarification right away!
If you found these items, but have questions about them, write down your questions and bring them to your professor, a librarian, or a tutor. The sooner you get clear answers, the easier your research assignment will be.
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