A Handy Guide to Research Assignments

A Handy Guide to Research Assignments

Research assignments take time. Yeah, I know. It seems obvious, but believe me, you’d be surprised!

This isn’t as common knowledge as you’d think. Some students are unaware of just how much research they need to do when working on an assignment, especially if they want to be at the top of their class.

I’ve at times had to climb into those terrible trenches with my students during our lessons, trying frantically to gather links and articles that would help them to build ideas and, ultimately, a piece of writing worth reading. I was able to help, but it really isn’t the best way to go about this. So what is?

Tip 1: Volume

When I was studying high school English all those years ago, I used to collect between 10 and 15 books and go through them over a period of weeks before I could formulate my own ideas on a topic. It may sound daunting, but volume works. You’ll rarely achieve well-rounded knowledge from reading one or two pieces.

Read articles, or perhaps essays (even university ones). You can even go to the library and find some great books about the texts or themes you’re writing about. Yes, that’s right, I said library. Those do still exist. A bit 90s, I know, but trust me they help! You don’t even need to stick to just written texts given the number of television and film adaptations out there now.

Tip 2: Seek out different arguments, not just the ones you want to write about.

Many students over the years have approached research as just collecting lots of evidence in support of their initial opinions.

This has two big problems. Firstly, you’ll never get the full picture, and without the full picture you’re tying one hand behind your back. Your analysis will be limited and ultimately weakened, and that can cost you marks.

Secondly, you lose adaptability. A comprehensive knowledge of the different perspectives gives you more flexibility to tailor your writing to different questions, and identify/address the gaps in that writing.

Following tip 1 will help with this. You can also search for the work of literary critics, articles on Google Scholar, or great guides about your text online. Using the example of Hamlet, you might look for one perspective that focuses on the impact of religion, and another focusing on the metatheatrical aspect of the play.

Tip 3: Bounce ideas around, but come prepared

This tip is a great one whether you’re working with other students, or with your tutor.

Brainstorming with another person can be a great way to formulate ideas, assess their rigour, and plan out your arguments. I can’t emphasise enough however, that this doesn’t just mean getting into a room together and hoping great ideas just pop up. You need to do some pre-work!

Have at least 2-3 sources read and ready to go, as well as a couple of ideas on how you might tackle a question. Doing all of this from scratch during a lesson with your tutor just wastes time that could be better spent enhancing your work.

I hope these tips will help you to make the most of your time and achieve your best. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss how one of our tutors can help.

Research assignments take time. Yeah, I know. It seems obvious, but believe me, you’d be surprised!

This isn’t as common knowledge as you’d think. Some students are unaware of just how much research they need to do when working on an assignment, especially if they want to be at the top of their class.

I’ve at times had to climb into those terrible trenches with my students during our lessons, trying frantically to gather links and articles that would help them to build ideas and, ultimately, a piece of writing worth reading. I was able to help, but it really isn’t the best way to go about this. So what is?

Tip 1: Volume

When I was studying high school English all those years ago, I used to collect between 10 and 15 books and go through them over a period of weeks before I could formulate my own ideas on a topic. It may sound daunting, but volume works. You’ll rarely achieve well-rounded knowledge from reading one or two pieces.

Read articles, or perhaps essays (even university ones). You can even go to the library and find some great books about the texts or themes you’re writing about. Yes, that’s right, I said library. Those do still exist. A bit 90s, I know, but trust me they help! You don’t even need to stick to just written texts given the number of television and film adaptations out there now.

Tip 2: Seek out different arguments, not just the ones you want to write about.

Many students over the years have approached research as just collecting lots of evidence in support of their initial opinions.

This has two big problems. Firstly, you’ll never get the full picture, and without the full picture you’re tying one hand behind your back. Your analysis will be limited and ultimately weakened, and that can cost you marks.

Secondly, you lose adaptability. A comprehensive knowledge of the different perspectives gives you more flexibility to tailor your writing to different questions, and identify/address the gaps in that writing.

Following tip 1 will help with this. You can also search for the work of literary critics, articles on Google Scholar, or great guides about your text online. Using the example of Hamlet, you might look for one perspective that focuses on the impact of religion, and another focusing on the metatheatrical aspect of the play.

Tip 3: Bounce ideas around, but come prepared

This tip is a great one whether you’re working with other students, or with your tutor.

Brainstorming with another person can be a great way to formulate ideas, assess their rigour, and plan out your arguments. I can’t emphasise enough however, that this doesn’t just mean getting into a room together and hoping great ideas just pop up. You need to do some pre-work!

Have at least 2-3 sources read and ready to go, as well as a couple of ideas on how you might tackle a question. Doing all of this from scratch during a lesson with your tutor just wastes time that could be better spent enhancing your work.

I hope these tips will help you to make the most of your time and achieve your best. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss how one of our tutors can help.