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Research Process: Your Assignment

Guide to the research process.

Understanding Your Assignment

The first step in the research process is to closely examine your assignment to determine what your professor is looking for and what guidelines he/she has given you for the assignment. You should look for:

  • Topic: Has the professor given you a specific topic to write about, or can you select a subject that you are interested in within the scope of the course?
  • Type of Research: Does the assignment require secondary research (the interpretation of research that has been previously published in books or journal articles) or does it involve original research (such as a survey or experiment you must conduct)?
  • Scope: Does your professor want you to analyze a topic from different viewpoints, or do you need to take one position and defend it?
  • Sources: Are you required to use a certain number and/or type or sources (books, popular articles, newspapers, scholarly articles, internet) in your research?
  • Length: Has the professor set a page or word limit on the paper, or time limit on an oral presentation?
  • Format: Has the professor given any guidelines regarding the layout of the paper, such as line spacing or use of page numbers?
  • Citation style: Has the professor specified a citation style for you to use in citing your sources? If not, which style is appropriate for your subject?
  • Due date: When is your paper due? Do you have enough time to obtain all the materials you will need?

Research question

From Modesto Junior College