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Posted 1st January, 2014 by Alison Earey

Below is the outline of a document that I adapted from Stella Cottrell’s wonderful book, The Study Skills Handbook (2008). It outlines the stages for planning an assignment.

1. Clarify the task

  • Examine title
  • Do you know what it is asking for?
  • Write down any initial ideas/ brainstorm/ draw ideas
  • What do you need to know?
  • How much time do you need? Work back from hand in date.

2. Collect and record information

  • What questions are you asking that you need answers to?
  • What are people saying about the subject from different angles?
  • How are you going to keep records?
  • Notes on computer/ in ring-binder/ on voice recorder.
  • How are you going to label the records so that you can find them again?
  • Where do you need to look for the information?

3. Organise and plan

  • How will you plan from your records?
  • Post-its on wall with key themes/ re-arrange notes on a table/ write an outline plan/ colour code notes.

4. Engage, reflect, evaluate

  • Where are you?
  • Are you missing any information?
  • Do you know what you need to?
  • Have you got information from all sides of the argument?
  • Are you clear about why you are being asked to do this assignment?

5. Write an outline plan

  • What order do things need to be written in?
  • How many words do you need for each section?
  • Write some headings
  • Write a draft

6. Develop first draft

  • Re-write draft
  • Alter headings, if appropriate
  • Is your argument clear?
  • Is all the necessary evidence included?
  • Are your references all included?

7. Final draft

  • Does the text answer the question?
  • Is your main argument clear?
  • Are there enough examples to back up your points?
  • Do the ideas from one paragraph flow into the next?
  • Have you set it out according to the correct standards? See Academic Handbook.
  • Have you completed the front cover sheet?
  • Have you read it through aloud to make sure that it makes sense?
  • Have you proofread for spelling, punctuation and grammar?
  • Is the reference section laid out correctly? See Academic Handbook
  • Have you checked it against the marking criteria? Is it going to make the grade that you want?
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