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University at Buffalo Libraries

Getting Started

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Before starting a research assignment:


Pay attention to all due dates.

Most university instructors deduct credit for late work; in some cases as much as a whole letter grade. It's very important you know the date that your assignment is due. Some instructors will require that you turn in everything at one time. Others may have you turn in portions of your assignment at intervals.


Don't wait until the last minute.

The sooner you start your research, the more time you will have to complete a successful paper or project. You may not have enough time to develop your topic if you wait too long. Also keep in mind that other students may need to use the same library materials as you. If you wait you may find that the books and materials have already been checked out of the library. Use the Assignment Calculator to help plan your research assignments.


Your research assignment should follow all of the instructions given by your instructor.

Research assignments will vary depending upon the program, instructor, and level of course work. Your instructor will usually give you detailed instructions explaining what you will be researching, what information to include, and how the assignment should be formatted. Be sure to follow these instructions. This will keep you from wasting time and energy modifying your assignment late in the process because you forgot to include required details. If you are not sure about the scope or direction of your assignment, talk to your instructor for clarification or more information. You cannot produce an effective result if you are not clear about the assignment.


Be aware of the required minimum or maximum length of your paper.
Be aware of the format required for presenting your assignment.

Research assignments are no longer limited to typed text. Therefore, you should be aware of the alternative assignment formats, as well as software needed to produce them. Possible alternative formats to consider include:

  • Video
  • Power Point presentation
  • Web pages
  • Poster

If you are unfamiliar with these technologies or software applications UB's Teaching and Learning Center offers workshops that are available to all members of the university. Cybraries, located within the libraries, offer a variety of media software. As a member of the university you also have access to software either downloadable to your computer or virtually over the Internet.