I want help with planning assignments

The first step in planning assignments is to know what the lecturer is expecting. (See also this topic in the menu on the left: ‘What does the lecturer expect me to write?’).

The second step is to identify all the different tasks you need to do, in order to achieve that outcome. For example:

  • library database search and catalogue search to find relevant journal articles or books
  • reading and note-taking
  • brainstorming
  • analysing data
  • planning the structure of your assignment
  • drafting
  • discussion
  • editing and proofreading.

Next, you need to know something about the way you work, so that you can accurately estimate the amount of time you need for each task. For example, some people need to spend a longer time reading, analysing and planning, to create a detailed plan before they begin writing. They may then write only one draft, so they need much less time for writing. Other people need to begin writing much earlier. These are people who don’t spend as much time on planning beforehand, but who instead write several drafts before the final structure is settled.

If you are having difficulties with the process of planning the structure of your assignment, consider trying some different planning methods. Many writers (including experienced ones!) use 2 or 3 or more stages of planning. For example:

  • taking notes from sources
  • brainstorming through mind-maps or flowcharts
  • analysing ideas, sources and/or data into categories through colour-coding
  • making tables
  • physically putting notes into piles
  • cutting and pasting notes in a document
  • then choosing, changing and cutting categories to create topics for paragraphs
  • and finally creating a plan for the structure of the assignment.

For more on this topic, see the links on the right...