How extensive should your final product be? For a paper, how many pages should it be? For a presentation, how long should you speak?
How many resources are you required to use? Are there specific types of resources you must use (for example, scholarly sources, or articles from peer-reviewed journals)? Are there resources you have been asked not to use (Wikipedia, Web sites)?
Have you been assigned a specific topic? Is your project on an assigned topic or do you need to come up with a topic on your own? If the latter, what questions will you explore? How specifc will you need to be in focusing your subject?
Who is the audience? Is the audience for your paper knowledgeable in this area? Or are you writing for a non-expert audience?
Ask questions! If there is anything you are unclear about in your assignment, ask your instructor about it now. Being clear on his or her expectations will make the rest of the research process much easier!
The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it requires thoughtful attention. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the advice involves translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects.
Your writing task begins when you receive your writing assignment from your teacher. The first step is to make sure you understand the assignment and what your teacher wants you to do with it. To do this, review the requirements of the assignment. These may be in the form of an assignment sheet or a description of the assignment, or they may be given to you verbally during a class lecture. Your requirements might also be stated as a one-line entry in your syllabus or as a short essay question.
Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing is a book series containing peer-reviewed collections of essays--all composed by teachers for students--with each volume freely available for download under a Creative Commons license. The Writing Spaces' aims to build a library of quality open textbooks for the writing classroom as an alternative to costly textbooks.
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