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Research Essentials

Level up your researching, reading and writing skills with these essential tips and navigate your first university assignments. Find relevant support and resources from the Library and Academic Skills.

When you receive your assignment question, ask yourself:


1. Have I analysed the task description?

What are you being asked to do? Describe, compare, evaluate, or reflect on something?  What are you being asked to write? An essay, a report, or a different type of assignment? Are you clear on the word limit, due date or any other submission requirements?

Should you focus on the materials you've been given in class, or are you expected to find other sources? Make a note of these instructions for when it's time to research.

2. Do I understand how this will be marked?

Most assessment tasks will have a marking rubric or guide which will tell you how much of the assignment's total grade is allocated for each aspect of the task. Use the rubric as a guide as to how much time to dedicate to each portion of the assignment.

For example, your assignment rubric might say '30% of marks for evidence to support claims' and '10% for accurate and consistent referencing'. Although accurate referencing is important, for this assignment you should spend more time on finding evidence to support your claims than on referencing.

3. What does the subject/unit guide tell me?

The subject guide will tell you which referencing style you need to use, when the assignment is due, what happens if you don't meet the deadline, or what to do if can't meet the deadline because of an emergency.

How to analyse your assignment task

(Academic Skills, 5 min 33 sec)

This video will help you:

  • understand what your assignment is asking you to do
  • find key terms to help with your research
  • start putting together a structure for your assignment.