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Assignment Survival Guide

Planning the paper

Planning the paper

Once you have brainstormed your topic and have a list of concepts, issues and keywords, you need to start asking yourself some questions.

diagram showing whiteboard to plan a project


  • What information needs to be included?
  • What are my main arguments going to be?


  • Why am I writing this paper?  This will help to determine the scope of the paper, the level to pitch it (this is not a dissertation or a book you are writing) at and its length-quite apart from the word count.


  • What is the point in me writing this paper? Why is it interesting? Why does this topic deserve to be re-examined or looked at in such detail? The answer to these questions can help you in writing your introduction. 
  • From what angle am I going to examine the topic?  This should also be made explicit in your introduction.  You might give a brief overview of your topic and then assert the approach that you will take.


  • Who will read the paper?
  • What do they want to learn?
  • Why do they need the information?

Answering these questions will give you a sound framework in which to develop a useful search strategy



Item to check Yes No
Do I understand my assignment and the learning outcomes?    
Do I know how many words are required?       check handbook
Can I identify the instruction words in my question?        
Can I identify my topic words? What do I have to write about?    
Have I refined my topic by using background reading -  lecture notes, recommended reading    
Have I used planning tools such as Mind mapping?    
Do I know where to find the information on my topic?    
In writing my plan have I considered: Context, Content, Purpose, Audience