Planning and tackling a research assignment

You’ve probably had the experience of several assignments across different subjects being due in the same week. Here’s how to plan your time to meet all deadlines without rushing to the finish line.

student working on research assignment
Cluey Learning Friday, 23 August 2019

Undertaking individual research is a key feature in many school subject areas. Having a systematic approach to this research can help to make the best use of your time. Most schools provide students with a study planner or homework diary to help with dates and organisation.

The following seven-point guide provides a format to follow when planning your assignment work. Breaking the research task into manageable steps is the starting point. You can then allocate a certain amount of time for each step, so that you are on track to meet submission deadlines.

1. Define the task

Read through the task details several times so that you understand exactly what the question or requirements are asking you to do. It seems logical, but precisely understanding the task will make sure you are focused on the end product. Ensure you are also familiar with assessment criteria provided.

2.  Locate information

Undertake some preliminary research and reading to gain an overview of the topic and to see what sources are available for you to use.  Remember to consider utilising your school library’s resources in addition to your own online research.

3.  Select resources

Draw upon the information sources you decide are most useful and reliable. Over time, you’ll find that you hone your skills in locating and evaluating resources.

4. Organise notes

Take notes as you extract information from each of your sources.  Organise this information as you go. Having a good set of notes will make the actual writing process much easier and quicker.

5.  Present the ideas

Plan out the main points you want to make in your assignment and then decide how you want to express and convey them. Write your submission in a clear and succinct fashion. Keep referring to the task requirements and the assessment criteria to make sure you’re covering the essential points.

6.  Evaluate your work

Once you’ve written the final word in your assignment, don’t be tempted to submit it immediately. Build in some time to carefully check over everything. Proof-read it to rectify any basic errors.  Reading work back aloud to yourself can be an effective way to do this. Again, check it against the task instructions and criteria.

7. Submission

If you’ve planned your time efficiently, aim to submit your assignment ahead of the deadline to make an allowance for any last-minute problems. It’s a great feeling to finally submit an assignment you have been working on over an extended period. It’s an even better feeling if you are happy that you’ve done your best to address the requirements of the task.


Dr Selina Samuels
Education expert

BA(Hons), LLB, PhD, MEd

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