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Writing Assignments

Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine

Hands on laptop

Introduction

Assignments are a common method of assessment at university and require careful planning and good quality research. Developing critical thinking and writing skills are also necessary to demonstrate your ability to understand and apply information about your topic.  It is not uncommon to be unsure about the processes of writing assignments at university.

  • You may be returning to study after a break
  • You may have come from an exam based assessment system and never written an assignment before
  • Maybe you have written assignments but would like to improve your processes and strategies

This chapter has a collection of resources that will provide you with the skills and strategies to understand assignment requirements and effectively plan, research, write and edit your assignments.  It begins with an explanation of how to analyse an assignment task and start putting your ideas together.  It continues by breaking down the components of academic writing and exploring the elements you will need to master in your written assignments. This is followed by a discussion of paraphrasing and synthesis, and how you can use these strategies to create a strong, written argument. The chapter concludes with useful checklists for editing and proofreading to help you get the best possible mark for your work.

Task Analysis and Deconstructing an Assignment

It is important that before you begin researching and writing your assignments you spend sufficient time understanding all the requirements. This will help make your research process more efficient and effective. Check your subject information such as task sheets, criteria sheets and any additional information that may be in your subject portal online. Seek clarification from your lecturer or tutor if you are still unsure about how to begin your assignments.

The task sheet typically provides key information about an assessment including the assignment question. It can be helpful to scan this document for topic, task and limiting words to ensure that you fully understand the concepts you are required to research, how to approach the assignment, and the scope of the task you have been set. These words can typically be found in your assignment question and are outlined in more detail in the two tables below (see Table 19.1 and Table 19.2 ).

Table 19.1 Parts of an Assignment Question

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the task word requires you to address.

Table 19.2 Task words

The criteria sheet , also known as the marking sheet or rubric, is another important document to look at before you begin your assignment. The criteria sheet outlines how your assignment will be marked and should be used as a checklist to make sure you have included all the information required.

The task or criteria sheet will also include the:

  • Word limit (or word count)
  • Referencing style and research expectations
  • Formatting requirements

Task analysis and criteria sheets are also discussed in the chapter Managing Assessments for a more detailed discussion on task analysis, criteria sheets, and marking rubrics.

Preparing your ideas

Concept map on whiteboard

Brainstorm or concept map:  List possible ideas to address each part of the assignment task based on what you already know about the topic from lectures and weekly readings.

Finding appropriate information: Learn how to find scholarly information for your assignments which is

See the chapter Working With Information for a more detailed explanation .

What is academic writing?

Academic writing tone and style.

Many of the assessment pieces you prepare will require an academic writing style.  This is sometimes called ‘academic tone’ or ‘academic voice’.  This section will help you to identify what is required when you are writing academically (see Table 19.3 ). The best way to understand what academic writing looks like, is to read broadly in your discipline area.  Look at how your course readings, or scholarly sources, are written. This will help you identify the language of your discipline field, as well as how other writers structure their work.

Table 19.3 Comparison of academic and non-academic writing

Thesis statements.

Essays are a common form of assessment that you will likely encounter during your university studies. You should apply an academic tone and style when writing an essay, just as you would in in your other assessment pieces. One of the most important steps in writing an essay is constructing your thesis statement.  A thesis statement tells the reader the purpose, argument or direction you will take to answer your assignment question. A thesis statement may not be relevant for some questions, if you are unsure check with your lecturer. The thesis statement:

  • Directly  relates to the task .  Your thesis statement may even contain some of the key words or synonyms from the task description.
  • Does more than restate the question.
  • Is specific and uses precise language.
  • Let’s your reader know your position or the main argument that you will support with evidence throughout your assignment.
  • The subject is the key content area you will be covering.
  • The contention is the position you are taking in relation to the chosen content.

Your thesis statement helps you to structure your essay.  It plays a part in each key section: introduction, body and conclusion.

Planning your assignment structure

Image of the numbers 231

When planning and drafting assignments, it is important to consider the structure of your writing. Academic writing should have clear and logical structure and incorporate academic research to support your ideas.  It can be hard to get started and at first you may feel nervous about the size of the task, this is normal. If you break your assignment into smaller pieces, it will seem more manageable as you can approach the task in sections. Refer to your brainstorm or plan. These ideas should guide your research and will also inform what you write in your draft. It is sometimes easier to draft your assignment using the 2-3-1 approach, that is, write the body paragraphs first followed by the conclusion and finally the introduction.

Writing introductions and conclusions

Clear and purposeful introductions and conclusions in assignments are fundamental to effective academic writing. Your introduction should tell the reader what is going to be covered and how you intend to approach this. Your conclusion should summarise your argument or discussion and signal to the reader that you have come to a conclusion with a final statement.  These tips below are based on the requirements usually needed for an essay assignment, however, they can be applied to other assignment types.

Writing introductions

Start written on road

Most writing at university will require a strong and logically structured introduction. An effective introduction should provide some background or context for your assignment, clearly state your thesis and include the key points you will cover in the body of the essay in order to prove your thesis.

Usually, your introduction is approximately 10% of your total assignment word count. It is much easier to write your introduction once you have drafted your body paragraphs and conclusion, as you know what your assignment is going to be about. An effective introduction needs to inform your reader by establishing what the paper is about and provide four basic things:

  • A brief background or overview of your assignment topic
  • A thesis statement (see section above)
  • An outline of your essay structure
  • An indication of any parameters or scope that will/ will not be covered, e.g. From an Australian perspective.

The below example demonstrates the four different elements of an introductory paragraph.

1) Information technology is having significant effects on the communication of individuals and organisations in different professions. 2) This essay will discuss the impact of information technology on the communication of health professionals.   3)  First, the provision of information technology for the educational needs of nurses will be discussed.  4)  This will be followed by an explanation of the significant effects that information technology can have on the role of general practitioner in the area of public health.  5)  Considerations will then be made regarding the lack of knowledge about the potential of computers among hospital administrators and nursing executives.  6)   The final section will explore how information technology assists health professionals in the delivery of services in rural areas .  7)  It will be argued that information technology has significant potential to improve health care and medical education, but health professionals are reluctant to use it.

1 Brief background/ overview | 2 Indicates the scope of what will be covered |   3-6 Outline of the main ideas (structure) | 7 The thesis statement

Note : The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing conclusions

You should aim to end your assignments with a strong conclusion. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and summarise the key points you have used to prove this thesis. Finish with a key point as a final impactful statement.  Similar to your introduction, your conclusion should be approximately 10% of the total assignment word length. If your assessment task asks you to make recommendations, you may need to allocate more words to the conclusion or add a separate recommendations section before the conclusion. Use the checklist below to check your conclusion is doing the right job.

Conclusion checklist 

  • Have you referred to the assignment question and restated your argument (or thesis statement), as outlined in the introduction?
  • Have you pulled together all the threads of your essay into a logical ending and given it a sense of unity?
  • Have you presented implications or recommendations in your conclusion? (if required by your task).
  • Have you added to the overall quality and impact of your essay? This is your final statement about this topic; thus, a key take-away point can make a great impact on the reader.
  • Remember, do not add any new material or direct quotes in your conclusion.

This below example demonstrates the different elements of a concluding paragraph.

1) It is evident, therefore, that not only do employees need to be trained for working in the Australian multicultural workplace, but managers also need to be trained.  2)  Managers must ensure that effective in-house training programs are provided for migrant workers, so that they become more familiar with the English language, Australian communication norms and the Australian work culture.  3)  In addition, Australian native English speakers need to be made aware of the differing cultural values of their workmates; particularly the different forms of non-verbal communication used by other cultures.  4)  Furthermore, all employees must be provided with clear and detailed guidelines about company expectations.  5)  Above all, in order to minimise communication problems and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and cooperation in the multicultural workplace, managers need to have an effective knowledge about their employees. This will help employers understand how their employee’s social conditioning affects their beliefs about work. It will develop their communication skills to develop confidence and self-esteem among diverse work groups. 6) The culturally diverse Australian workplace may never be completely free of communication problems, however,   further studies to identify potential problems and solutions, as well as better training in cross cultural communication for managers and employees,   should result in a much more understanding and cooperative environment. 

1  Reference to thesis statement – In this essay the writer has taken the position that training is required for both employees and employers . | 2-5 Structure overview – Here the writer pulls together the main ideas in the essay. | 6  Final summary statement that is based on the evidence.

Note: The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing paragraphs

Paragraph writing is a key skill that enables you to incorporate your academic research into your written work.  Each paragraph should have its own clearly identified topic sentence or main idea which relates to the argument or point (thesis) you are developing.  This idea should then be explained by additional sentences which you have paraphrased from good quality sources and referenced according to the recommended guidelines of your subject (see the chapter Working with Information ). Paragraphs are characterised by increasing specificity; that is, they move from the general to the specific, increasingly refining the reader’s understanding. A common structure for paragraphs in academic writing is as follows.

Topic Sentence 

This is the main idea of the paragraph and should relate to the overall issue or purpose of your assignment is addressing. Often it will be expressed as an assertion or claim which supports the overall argument or purpose of your writing.

Explanation/ Elaboration

The main idea must have its meaning explained and elaborated upon. Think critically, do not just describe the idea.

These explanations must include evidence to support your main idea. This information should be paraphrased and referenced according to the appropriate referencing style of your course.

Concluding sentence (critical thinking)

This should explain why the topic of the paragraph is relevant to the assignment question and link to the following paragraph.

Use the checklist below to check your paragraphs are clear and well formed.

Paragraph checklist

  • Does your paragraph have a clear main idea?
  • Is everything in the paragraph related to this main idea?
  • Is the main idea adequately developed and explained?
  • Do your sentences run together smoothly?
  • Have you included evidence to support your ideas?
  • Have you concluded the paragraph by connecting it to your overall topic?

Writing sentences

Make sure all the sentences in your paragraphs make sense. Each sentence must contain a verb to be a complete sentence. Avoid sentence fragments . These are incomplete sentences or ideas that are unfinished and create confusion for your reader. Avoid also run on sentences . This happens when you join two ideas or clauses without using the appropriate punctuation. This also confuses your meaning (See the chapter English Language Foundations for examples and further explanation).

Use transitions (linking words and phrases) to connect your ideas between paragraphs and make your writing flow. The order that you structure the ideas in your assignment should reflect the structure you have outlined in your introduction. Refer to transition words table in the chapter English Language Foundations.

Paraphrasing and Synthesising

Paraphrasing and synthesising are powerful tools that you can use to support the main idea of a paragraph. It is likely that you will regularly use these skills at university to incorporate evidence into explanatory sentences and strengthen your essay. It is important to paraphrase and synthesise because:

  • Paraphrasing is regarded more highly at university than direct quoting.
  • Paraphrasing can also help you better understand the material.
  • Paraphrasing and synthesising demonstrate you have understood what you have read through your ability to summarise and combine arguments from the literature using your own words.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is changing the writing of another author into your words while retaining the original meaning. You must acknowledge the original author as the source of the information in your citation. Follow the steps in this table to help you build your skills in paraphrasing (see Table 19.4 ).

Table 19.4 Paraphrasing techniques

Example of paraphrasing.

Please note that these examples and in text citations are for instructional purposes only.

Original text

Health care professionals   assist people often when they are at their most  vulnerable . To provide the best care and understand their needs, workers must demonstrate good communication skills .  They must develop patient trust and provide empathy   to effectively work with patients who are experiencing a variety of situations including those who may be suffering from trauma or violence, physical or mental illness or substance abuse (French & Saunders, 2018).

Poor quality paraphrase example

This is a poor example of paraphrasing. Some synonyms have been used and the order of a few words changed within the sentences however the colours of the sentences indicate that the paragraph follows the same structure as the original text.

Health care sector workers are often responsible for vulnerable  patients.   To understand patients and deliver good service , they need to be excellent communicators .  They must establish patient rapport and show empathy if they are to successfully care for patients from a variety of backgrounds  and with different medical, psychological and social needs (French & Saunders, 2018).

A good quality paraphrase example

This example demonstrates a better quality paraphrase. The author has demonstrated more understanding of the overall concept in the text by using the keywords as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph. Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up to see how much the structure has changed from the original text.

Empathetic   communication is a vital skill for health care workers.   Professionals in these fields   are often responsible for patients with complex medical, psychological and social needs. Empathetic   communication assists in building rapport and gaining the necessary trust   to assist these vulnerable patients  by providing appropriate supportive care (French & Saunders, 2018).

The good quality paraphrase example demonstrates understanding of the overall concept in the text by using key words as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph.  Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up, which indicates how much the structure has changed from the original text.

What is synthesising?

Synthesising means to bring together more than one source of information to strengthen your argument. Once you have learnt how to paraphrase the ideas of one source at a time, you can consider adding additional sources to support your argument. Synthesis demonstrates your understanding and ability to show connections between multiple pieces of evidence to support your ideas and is a more advanced academic thinking and writing skill.

Follow the steps in this table to improve your synthesis techniques (see Table 19.5 ).

Table 19.5 Synthesising techniques

Example of synthesis

There is a relationship between academic procrastination and mental health outcomes.  Procrastination has been found to have a negative effect on students’ well-being (Balkis, & Duru, 2016). Yerdelen, McCaffrey, and Klassens’ (2016) research results suggested that there was a positive association between procrastination and anxiety. This was corroborated by Custer’s (2018) findings which indicated that students with higher levels of procrastination also reported greater levels of the anxiety. Therefore, it could be argued that procrastination is an ineffective learning strategy that leads to increased levels of distress.

Topic sentence | Statements using paraphrased evidence | Critical thinking (student voice) | Concluding statement – linking to topic sentence

This example demonstrates a simple synthesis. The author has developed a paragraph with one central theme and included explanatory sentences complete with in-text citations from multiple sources. Note how the blocks of colour have been used to illustrate the paragraph structure and synthesis (i.e., statements using paraphrased evidence from several sources). A more complex synthesis may include more than one citation per sentence.

Creating an argument

What does this mean.

Throughout your university studies, you may be asked to ‘argue’ a particular point or position in your writing. You may already be familiar with the idea of an argument, which in general terms means to have a disagreement with someone. Similarly, in academic writing, if you are asked to create an argument, this means you are asked to have a position on a particular topic, and then justify your position using evidence.

What skills do you need to create an argument?

In order to create a good and effective argument, you need to be able to:

  • Read critically to find evidence
  • Plan your argument
  • Think and write critically throughout your paper to enhance your argument

For tips on how to read and write critically, refer to the chapter Thinking for more information. A formula for developing a strong argument is presented below.

A formula for a good argument

A diagram on the formula for a ggood argument which includes deciding what side of argument you are on, research evidence to support your argument, create a plan to create a logically flowing argument and writing your argument

What does an argument look like?

As can be seen from the figure above, including evidence is a key element of a good argument. While this may seem like a straightforward task, it can be difficult to think of wording to express your argument. The table below provides examples of how you can illustrate your argument in academic writing (see Table 19.6 ).

Table 19.6 Argument

Editing and proofreading (reviewing).

Once you have finished writing your first draft it is recommended that you spend time revising your work.  Proofreading and editing are two different stages of the revision process.

  • Editing considers the overall focus or bigger picture of the assignment
  • Proofreading considers the finer details

Editing mindmap with the words sources, content,s tructure and style. Proofreading mindmap with the words referencing, word choice, grammar and spelling and punctuation

As can be seen in the figure above there are four main areas that you should review during the editing phase of the revision process. The main things to consider when editing include content, structure, style, and sources. It is important to check that all the content relates to the assignment task, the structure is appropriate for the purposes of the assignment, the writing is academic in style, and that sources have been adequately acknowledged. Use the checklist below when editing your work.

Editing checklist

  • Have I answered the question accurately?
  • Do I have enough credible, scholarly supporting evidence?
  • Is my writing tone objective and formal enough or have I used emotive and informal language?
  • Have I written in the third person not the first person?
  • Do I have appropriate in-text citations for all my information?
  • Have I included the full details for all my in-text citations in my reference list?

There are also several key things to look out for during the proofreading phase of the revision process. In this stage it is important to check your work for word choice, grammar and spelling, punctuation and referencing errors. It can be easy to mis-type words like ‘from’ and ‘form’ or mix up words like ‘trail’ and ‘trial’ when writing about research, apply American rather than Australian spelling, include unnecessary commas or incorrectly format your references list. The checklist below is a useful guide that you can use when proofreading your work.

Proofreading checklist

  • Is my spelling and grammar accurate?
  •  Are they complete?
  • Do they all make sense?
  • Do they only contain only one idea?
  • Do the different elements (subject, verb, nouns, pronouns) within my sentences agree?
  • Are my sentences too long and complicated?
  • Do they contain only one idea per sentence?
  • Is my writing concise? Take out words that do not add meaning to your sentences.
  • Have I used appropriate discipline specific language but avoided words I don’t know or understand that could possibly be out of context?
  • Have I avoided discriminatory language and colloquial expressions (slang)?
  • Is my referencing formatted correctly according to my assignment guidelines? (for more information on referencing refer to the Managing Assessment feedback section).

This chapter has examined the experience of writing assignments.  It began by focusing on how to read and break down an assignment question, then highlighted the key components of essays. Next, it examined some techniques for paraphrasing and summarising, and how to build an argument. It concluded with a discussion on planning and structuring your assignment and giving it that essential polish with editing and proof-reading. Combining these skills and practising them, can greatly improve your success with this very common form of assessment.

  • Academic writing requires clear and logical structure, critical thinking and the use of credible scholarly sources.
  • A thesis statement is important as it tells the reader the position or argument you have adopted in your assignment. Not all assignments will require a thesis statement.
  • Spending time analysing your task and planning your structure before you start to write your assignment is time well spent.
  • Information you use in your assignment should come from credible scholarly sources such as textbooks and peer reviewed journals. This information needs to be paraphrased and referenced appropriately.
  • Paraphrasing means putting something into your own words and synthesising means to bring together several ideas from sources.
  • Creating an argument is a four step process and can be applied to all types of academic writing.
  • Editing and proofreading are two separate processes.

Academic Skills Centre. (2013). Writing an introduction and conclusion . University of Canberra, accessed 13 August, 2013, http://www.canberra.edu.au/studyskills/writing/conclusions

Balkis, M., & Duru, E. (2016). Procrastination, self-regulation failure, academic life satisfaction, and affective well-being: underregulation or misregulation form. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 31 (3), 439-459.

Custer, N. (2018). Test anxiety and academic procrastination among prelicensure nursing students. Nursing education perspectives, 39 (3), 162-163.

Yerdelen, S., McCaffrey, A., & Klassen, R. M. (2016). Longitudinal examination of procrastination and anxiety, and their relation to self-efficacy for self-regulated learning: Latent growth curve modeling. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 16 (1).

Writing Assignments Copyright © 2021 by Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that they will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove their point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, they still have to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and they already know everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality they expect.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • Refine a Plan

User-defined Resources

Resources are the roles that people who work on the study are assigned.

There are two types of resources in ClearTrial:

  • ClearTrial-defined resources are the ClearTrial default resources working on tasks. You can edit these resources.
  • User-defined resources are custom resources you create and define to more accurately reflect your or your CROs' organizations' staffing and costing structures.
  • Create a Resource You can add new resources and then assign these user-defined resources to both system-defined and user-defined tasks using the Task Manager.
  • Add a User-defined Description for a ClearTrial-defined Resource You can update the description for ClearTrial-defined resources and user-defined resources so that it adequately provides other users the information they need to identify the correct resource to add to a task.
  • Override Plan-level Resource Assignments When designing a trial, you can create alternative estimates by replacing all resources of one type with a different one.

Parent topic: Refine a Plan

Create a Resource

You can add new resources and then assign these user-defined resources to both system-defined and user-defined tasks using the Task Manager.

Prerequisite: You must be a Resources Administrator to assign, create, edit, or delete user-defined resources.

  • From the Maintain menu, select Resources .
  • On the Resources screen, click New .

Use the Code field to quickly identify your resource throughout the user interface and in reporting. Specify a unique alphanumeric code that represents the resource that will be displayed in the plan and on reports; for example, CRO1.

  • For providers you have defined, use the Billing Rates Maintenance features to provide and publish specific rates for each location.
  • Click Auto Fill if you do not want to manually enter each of the U.S. rates for each of the rate years displayed. You will be prompted with options on how to auto-populate rates for the resource; for example, you can populate rates based on a yearly percentage increase. Choose an option, enter the values, click Apply , and then Ok .
  • Click Save .

Parent topic: User-defined Resources

Add a User-defined Description for a ClearTrial-defined Resource

You can update the description for ClearTrial-defined resources and user-defined resources so that it adequately provides other users the information they need to identify the correct resource to add to a task.

  • On the Resources screen, select the ClearTrial-defined resource, and then click Edit .

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  • Edit the description, and then click Save .
  • Click Close .

Override Plan-level Resource Assignments

When designing a trial, you can create alternative estimates by replacing all resources of one type with a different one.

For example, you might substitute junior programmers for senior clinical research associates (senior CRAs) to perform project management activities. You can substitute at the global level or for each task and override plan-level resource assignments per provider.

  • From the Edit menu, select Plans .
  • On the Plan screen, select the plan and then click Edit .
  • On the Edit Plan screen, select the Assignment tab.
  • Click the Task Assignments section, click the Override Resources or Rates link.
  • On the Resource Overrides screen, in the Scope of Overrides section, select a provider from the For tasks assigned to drop-down list.
  • In the Resources/Overrides section, specify your override for each default resource specification and pin your changes if desired.
  • To clear the overrides made in one click, click the Clear Overrides link .

Michigan Basketball releases Big Ten assignments for the 2024-25 season

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The Big Ten Conference and Michigan Basketball have released the home and away assignments for the 2024-25 season. Michigan will play a home-and-home series with three teams: Michigan State, Purdue, and Rutgers.

Michigan's home Big Ten opponents are Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Northwestern, Oregon, Penn State, and Washington.

Michigan's away Big Ten opponents are Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, UCLA, USC, and Wisconsin.

The Big Ten conference has maintained a 20-game conference schedule, which has been used since 2018-19, with the conference expansion including Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington.

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NEWS... BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

Is there such as thing as ‘British girl energy’?

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What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘British girl energy’? (Picture: Getty)

When it comes to fashion , what images does the term ‘British girl energy’ evoke? Ugg boots, Crocs , dresses with pockets, Uniqlo bags ?

And, more broadly, perhaps being overly apologetic, sending chaotic voice notes to your friends on the bus, and being an expert in discussing the weather.

Replacing Edward Enniful, who recently retired as the editor of British Vogue, Chioma Nnadi used the term when discussing her new role, and it’s gathered traction online.

‘I realised just how much growing up in London shaped me,’ she told a Vogue Club podcast . ‘I’ve been talking a lot with my friends about this idea of British girl energy; it’s just an irreverence, kind of cheekiness, it’s not too polished, and it’s a little bit undone.’

Chioma’s description is simultaneously bang on and somewhat vague; we sort of know what she’s talking about, but we still have questions.

As TikTok continues to dominate fashion trends, we’ve seen the rise of ‘cool girl aesthetics,’ ‘clean girl aesthetics’ and even the ‘Mob wife,’ all of which have taken hold in the UK.

At present, the reigning British trend (particularly in middle class London) seems to be Ganni (or Ganni-style tie-up jackets, at least), striped M&S trousers and, until Rishi Sunak was recently pictured wearing them during an interview, Adidas Sambas.

So, is there really a universal British girl chic? Arguably not.

As with many countries and their respective fashion trends, it’s impossible to summon just one image that gives ‘British girl energy.’ It isn’t a cookie cutter and we don’t all look the same, but there are some notable tropes many of us are a sucker for.

Nike Air Force 1

French women have a reputation for adorning classic, dressed-down looks, with a certain je ne sais quoi, while Scandinavian women have a similar reputation for looking effortlessly fashionable (and yet, still casual).

Comparatively, searching TikTok, ‘British girl energy’ and ‘British girl aesthetic’ brings up visuals of flared jeans, tote bags, and oversized leather jackets, as well as Pandora bracelet charms, fluffy Primark PJs, and Nike Air Force trainers.

Meanwhile, a quick, democratic Instagram poll asking for suggestions threw up: ‘high rise jeans, crop top and leather jacket’ and ‘Reebok Classics,’ while the general vibe (fashion aside), supposedly gives off: ‘a lot of makeup,’ ‘you know where you stand,’ and ‘Alexa Chung vibes.’

Historically, fashion and aesthetics have been tied to musical taste.

During the ’60s you had mods and rockers; in the ’70s you had punks; the ’80s was all about the New Romantics and ’90s fashion was heavily influenced by the Spice Girls, Ibiza club culture and grunge.

More recently still, emo bands such as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco heavily influenced fashion in the Noughties. At the same time, R&B and hip-hop stars inspired many looks, from crop tops and baggy jeans, to cargo pants and lip liner.

Towards the end of the decade, the Indie Sleaze movement well and truly kicked in, popularised by The Libertines, The Strokes, Bloc Party et al – think super skinny jeans, backcombed hair and studded belts, along with the occasional rosary bead necklace and trilby hat.

Nowadays, though, fashion seems increasingly separate from music – with the exception of Gen Z TikTokers stumbling on ‘retro’ looks and trying to recreate them.

Instead, style and aesthetic are perhaps more centred around the trends that we’re exposed to online. And we’re all guilty of it: TikTok Shop is everywhere, and influencer culture has absolutely peaked.

But, as various online debates have suggested recently, have we all lost our sense of individualism? Does anyone have a unique fashion sense these days, or is it implanted into us depending on what the latest hype piece is? Potentially.

So, if there ever was a typical ‘British girl energy,’ it’s probably in its heyday right now. But really, ‘British girl energy’ can mean whatever you want it to, and if that comes with a side ordering of Bondi Sands, Charlie Touch and skinny jeans, then so be it.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected] .

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These 3 Men Clearly Understood the Assignment on the Met Gala Red Carpet

The men have entered the building.

Author image: Karelle McKay Headshot

It’s the night fashion lovers (like myself) have been waiting for: the 2024 Met Gala . As some of Hollywood’s biggest stars walk the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s safe to say that the male attendees have  given the women a run for their money . But if I were asked to name those who fully embody this year’s theme, “ Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion ,” there are three men who immediately come to mind.

If there’s one thing Colman Domingo is going to do it’s make a statement. The Rustin star showed up to the star-studded event wearing a gorgeous caped black and white suit designed by Willy Chavarria.

And if that weren’t enough, the 54-year-old actor added a splash of greenery with a white floral bouquet. But what *really* made this outfit pop was his bright hazel contacts, which instantly gave off major vampire vibes.  

Colman Domingo 2024 Met Gala CAT

Next, we have Dan Levy. The Schitt’s Creek alum stood out in a stunning black Loewe suit that features an eye-popping floral pattern that extends from the middle of the blazer to his pants. And to tie the entire look together, the filmmaker wore shiny black loafers. 

Dan Levy Met Gala 2024 CAT

Last but not least, Bad Bunny. The Spanish singer and rapper, who made his Met Gala debut in 2022, certainly didn't disappoint with his ensemble this year. The 30-year-old musician turned heads in a custom Maison Margiela black suit—and to say the award-winning artist gave Prince Charming would be an understatement.

Bad Bunny 2024 Met Gala CAT

In case you missed it, Bad Bunny is serving as a co-chair alongside Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez and Anna Wintour. When asked about how he chose his Met Gala look for this year, the Puerto Rican native recently told Vogue that unlike other red carpets, you “can’t really improvise” at the Met Gala. He added, “If I want to attend a different red carpet and decide to wear boxers last minute, I do it. I just do it.”

Way to steal the show, fellas.

All the Astonishing Looks from the 2024 Met Gala Red Carpet

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    Our assignment editors are like writing coaches and provide ongoing proofreading and editing to fix: Spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Formatting inconsistencies and incorrect terms. Improper capitalization in heading text. For ongoing editing and writing help, purchase Wordvice Points and save up to 40% on all assignment editing services.

  9. Editing & Proofreading

    The four editing levels are: Proofreading: usually the "last pass" before submission or publication; ensuring everything is correct and no lingering errors such as typos, missing words, missing punctuation, etc. remain. In general, writers should follow this list down in order when revising and editing, from higher order to lower order concerns ...

  10. PaperRater: Free Online Proofreader with Grammar Check, Plagiarism

    Simply copy and paste your writing into the online editor or upload your file and click 'Get Report'! Grammar and Writing Resources. ... The best time to receive feedback is before you turn your assignment in. Sometimes valuable feedback comes too late, which is why our automated proofreading tool can be especially helpful -- not just for ...

  11. Top 10 Assignment Editing Services of 2024

    9. Wordvice. Wordvice is an international brand with a presence in the U.S., Turkey, Korea, Japan Taiwan, and China. Their assignment editing services include editing high school & college term papers, personal essays, homework assignments, class essays, and course research projects.

  12. Writing Assignments

    Proofreading and editing are two different stages of the revision process. Editing considers the overall focus or bigger picture of the assignment; Proofreading considers the finer details; Figure 19.6 Editing and proofreading processes to complete at completion of writing 1st draft of assignment. Image by USQ.

  13. How to Self-Edit: 10 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing

    How to Self-Edit: 10 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing. Editing writing draws upon different skills than creative storytelling, which makes self-editing difficult for many writers. If hiring an editor isn't an option, you will want to improve your own editing skills to increase your writing's readability and overall quality.

  14. Understanding Assignments

    What this handout is about. The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms ...

  15. Editing an assignment

    Editing an assignment. There are two ways you can edit an existing assignment. From the assignment page. From the assignments page, select the More actions drop-down of the assignment that you want to edit. Select Edit settings from the drop-down. From the inbox. From the inbox, select Edit assignment settings from the inbox menu.

  16. Create and Edit Assignments

    Create an assignment. You can create assignments in content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, and folders. From the Assessments menu, select Assignment and provide the name, instructions, and the files students need. You can use the functions in the editor to format text and add files. You can also add files in the Assignment Files section.

  17. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.

  18. Editing an Assignment

    Editing an Assignment. Select the assignment you would like to edit. Select the gear icon at the top right of the screen. To edit the settings within Blackboard, review the area below which is relevant to your setup. Under the Course Content section for your course, select the three-dots menu on the right side of the assignment and click Edit.

  19. Academic Proofreading & Editing Services

    Overuse of passive voice. Subjective or inflated language. For a more comprehensive edit, you can add one or multiple add-on editing services that fit your needs. ⏰ Deadline. Within 12 hours. 📄 Texts. Papers, essays, dissertations, manuscripts. ⭐️ Rating. 4.6 based on 12,523 reviews.

  20. Design Cover Pages Online for Free

    Create online Cover Pages for printing. You can enter our free graphic editor from your phone, tablet or computer. The process is 100% online, fun and intuitive. Just click on what you want to modify. Customize your cover page quickly and easily. You don't need any design skills.

  21. Free DOCX Editor

    Open and edit DOCX files without Word software. Use the free DOCX editor for processing Word documents online.

  22. How much time would it take for the status to change from ...

    You have three queries. Let's take them one by one. Meaning of 'Awaiting Editor Assignment' This means that your manuscript has cleared the admin check, that is, it was found matching the journal's scope and also adhering to the journal's guidelines, apart from a cursory check of the novelty and quality of the study.

  23. User-defined Resources

    On the Edit Plan screen, select the Assignment tab. Click the Task Assignments section, click the Override Resources or Rates link. On the Resource Overrides screen, in the Scope of Overrides section, select a provider from the For tasks assigned to drop-down list.

  24. Editing an assignment

    To edit an assignment in Canvas, follow these steps: Select the assignment you would like to edit. To access Turnitin assignment settings, select the gear icon at the top right of the screen. To access the Canvas assignment settings, select the "Edit Assignment Settings" button. For more information about the assignment settings, see the ...

  25. Maize&BlueReview

    The Big Ten Conference and Michigan Basketball have released the home and away assignments for the 2024-25 season. Michigan will play a home-and-home series with three teams: Michigan State, Purdue, and Rutgers.

  26. Is there such as thing as 'British girl energy'?

    Replacing Edward Enniful, who recently retired as the editor of British Vogue, Chioma Nnadi used the term when discussing her new role, and it's gathered traction online.

  27. Editing an assignment

    Select Edit settings from the drop-down. From the inbox. From the inbox, select Edit assignment settings from the inbox menu. Updating an assignments settings. You will be able to edit all the settings that you set when you first created your assignment. For more information on the assignment settings, please see our guidance for creating an ...

  28. 3 Men Steal the Show on the 2024 Met Gala Red Carpet

    In case you missed it, Bad Bunny is serving as a co-chair alongside Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez and Anna Wintour. When asked about how he chose his Met Gala look for this year, the Puerto Rican native recently told Vogue that unlike other red carpets, you "can't really improvise" at the Met Gala. He added, "If I want to attend a different red carpet and decide to wear boxers last minute, I ...

  29. Knicks vs. Pacers second-round preview and prediction for 2024 NBA playoffs

    Here's a preview and prediction for the Knicks' matchup with the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.