Exploring and selecting from a vast amount of published information can be extremely time-consuming so it is important to know how to plan and carry out this work effectively.
Starting early will give you time to identify the right information for your particular assignment. At this first stage, you need to work out:
- what the assignment is asking you to do
- how you are going to approach answering the question
- the information resources you will need for your answer.
- If you are confused or unsure about the assignment topic, ask your tutor who will be happy to talk it through with you.
If you take time to really understand your assignment question at the start you will be able to look for materials more effectively and will write a more relevant essay.
This section contains useful advice on approaching your assignment from staff and students and links to help with analysing essay titles.
Before you start your research it is important that you a good idea of what you are looking for.
These are the kinds of questions that will help you get started:
- What are the main subjects the title covers?
- How will they be linked together?
- What are the keywords? This is a great help when using the Library Search or databases.
Do I want to consider the theme from a particular angle e.g. Marxist or Feminist?
- If the topic is very broad do I need to choose a specific aspect?
For a detailed guide and template to help you analyse your essay question, see Understanding the question on the Write it right website.
Remember, your tutor is there to help if you still feel confused about the nature of your assignment. You just need to ask!
Be proactive in seeking help if you need it. There are many people and services in the university that offer guidance on all kinds of areas related to your studies.
When you are researching your first assignment you may well find that you need other kinds of help and support. You just need to know who to ask or where to look and then make time to find what you need.
The most important thing is that you take responsibility for your own learning. Many people are there to help you but only you can do it!
Check the 'Where to find help' guide for information on library inquiries, the European Computer Driving Licence, study skills, English language skills, IT queries, pastoral and personal support and other issues.
Related resources: Where to find help? (PDF)