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Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Welcome to the Research Planning Guide

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

To get a good start on a research project, you need to read the assignment carefully

Consider these points:

  • Due date How soon is the project due?
  • Pages - What is the minimum number of pages required?
  • Resources - how many outside resources are required? Will you need scholarly articles? Case studies? Are non-traditional sources such as blogs or transcripts allowed? 
  • Format - APA, MLA, or Turabian? Many professors will penalize you for deviating from the standard format.
  • Product - What type of paper/project does your professor expect?  Will you have to make a presentation as well?  Some basic types include Descriptive, Analytical, Investigative, Persuasive, and Literature Review (Badke 235). 
  • Submission - Blackboard, email, or a paper handed in during class time? 

Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to plan your research strategy efficiently and will make the process go as smoothly as possible. 


Here are some helpful tips:

  • Ask your professor!  Professors would much rather answer questions early than waste their time reading poorly written papers or papers that don’t meet the requirements.
  • Talk it over with your classmates. 
  • Check out these great resources:
    • DBU Writing Center Quick Reference Flyers.  Look for the list of "Specific Assignments" in the right-hand column.  These handouts have been compiled with the help of DBU professors and are designed to help DBU students successfully complete a variety of assignments.
    • Understanding Assignments, from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.  This excellent handout provides a great overview of this topic, with fun examples. Also available in PDF.
    • Understanding Assignments Demo, also from UNC-Chapel Hill.  This short video offers a graphic example of a typical assignment and how to de-code it.