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Library DIY

Developing a Research Focus

Tutorial: Developing a Research Focus

Reading your assignment carefully can make a huge difference!

  • Purpose of the assignment. What should your research project accomplish? How will you use research and / or information sources in the assignment? If you still have questions after closely reading the assignment, ask your instructor.
  • Topic guidance and suggestions. Some instructors offer specific suggestions; others provide guidelines to help you choose a topic yourself. Check for points the instructor wants you to address in your assignment. For help, see How to Narrow Your Topic.
  • Type(s) of recommended sources for supporting your research.  Consider where you might look for the recommended sources. Some will be available through the Library, and some may be freely available on the Web. For more information see Searching for Information.
  • Due date. This will help you determine your timeline. Allow time for beginning your research, reading and analyzing sources, refining your research, and developing and refining your paper or project. Some assignments have different parts due at different times, so check all of the due dates.
  • Length of the assignment. This will help you determine the scope of your topic. 
  • Style and formatting information (e.g., font size, spacing, and citation style).  Citations can help with this.

Highlight or underline the elements that are key to understanding your assignment. If you cannot describe what your assignment is about to someone else, re-read the assignment sheet or talk with your instructor. 

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