It is important to understand what the assignment is asking you to do before you begin.
Decode the assignment brief using the assignment guidelines given to you, search your module and course handbooks for further advice.
Next, re-read the assignment brief or title and circle keywords to understand the question.
If you are unsure at this stage of what you need to do be sure to discuss this with your tutor or peers in your course.
You will need to formulate a response to the essential question you have identified (usually in one or two sentences). This will be your 'statement of argument' or 'thesis statement'.
Research widely. This is a crucial step. You must research and be familiar with the topic you are writing on. Make sure you save details of where you get your information. This will come in useful when it comes to your references.
Once you have understood the assignment, you will use your keywords to search for sources to use in your assignments.
Remember that you will need to reference the sources you use. It is important to make sure you have a way of tracking your sources as you find them useful.
Book an appointment with your librarian to find out more about searching databases, finding books, and journal articles.
Click here to book an appointment with a librarian. Show the librarian the assignment brief and any reading lists you have been given. Remember! By focusing your efforts on responding to the assignment brief or title, you can avoid doing unnecessary research.
Note: Do not get side-tracked by doing either tangential research or too much background research. Also remember that in most assignments - especially those beyond the first year - descriptive material is not allocated many marks, whereas analytical writing (arguing a case by weighing up the evidence) is highly rewarded.
Once you have researched and are familiar with the topic, it is now time to brainstorm and put pen to paper.
Invention strategies Discuss the assignment with a variety of people and write down your ideas using one of the following invention strategies: