Before you get started
Before you start gathering information for a research project,
even before you write your thesis statement, it is important to psych yourself up (and psych out the professor)!
Answer the question “What and why?” ( The 2 Ws )
What do I have to do? In other words: the Requirements
When is the paper due?
How many pages?
What style manual do I need to use?
Is there a specific topic area or focus?
How many and what kind of sources do I need?
Why did the instructor make this assignment? In other words: the Reason
You know that the instructor hasn't designed the assignment just to torment you. You also know that the instructor probably knows quite a lot about the topic you will be researching. There must be reasons for the requirement; what are they?
What does the professor wants you to learn from this assignment?
What do YOU want to learn while doing this assignment?
The answers help you plan your research strategy, select an appropriate topic and focus, determine what information you need, and how much time you must devote to the project. The answers will help you think and really learn.
If you are not sure about the answers, consult with your professor! Most professors would be pleased to talk about why they are teaching the course and how they came to the decisions they came to regarding the assignment.