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The guide for students in degree programmes offered by NUS School of Continuing & Lifelong Learning (SCALE).


Before Starting The Assignment

Understand the deliverables 


undefinedWhen is the deadline? 

  • Will you have enough time?
  • Does it clash with assignments or tests from your other modules?
  • Have you recorded the deadline in your calendar? 
  • Plan your time well so that you space your workload out and prevent a last-minute cram! 

undefined Relative Value (McAdoo, 2015)

  •  You should spend more time on an assignment worth 50% of the final grade compared to one worth 10% of the final grade. 
  • This should help you prioritise and plan your time.

undefined What does the assignment require? 

  • Do you understand the assignment question? 
  • Have you made any clarifications with your professor? 
  • Getting a clear picture of the assignment avoids misunderstandings that might waste time correcting down the road! 

undefined For groupwork only: 

  • Have you set up a collaboration and file-sharing platform? (e.g. Google Docs) 
  • Planned schedules with your groupmates? 
  • Made sure that the workload is allocated fairly beforehand?

Starting And Doing The Assignment

Sometimes the topic is more or less decided in the assignment requirement, sometimes you have to develop and scope a suitable topic for your assignment. Which are you?

Topic is set - move on to the next box on Assigned Readings.

Topic is to be developed - is your topic researchable? 

  • It is important to choose a topic that is researchable 
  • There will be nothing to support your points if there is no literature on it 
  • e.g. if you would like to write about lampshades, but a Google Scholar search yields 0 scholarly articles. 
  • The video below will illustrate



Limited by Assignment Requirements

  • ​Make sure that your topic fits your assignment requirements. 
  • Make sure the topic scope you choose allows you enough time to develop and complete a quality assignment
  • If you are unsure, check with your professor. 
  • You could ask after class or drop an email! 

Interesting to You 

  • Choose a topic that you find meaningful or draws your interest in some ways
  • The writing process will be made much easier because you are learning about something that interests you personally! 

Need more rigorous information on finding a research topic? Contact us at

Refer to your lecturer's uploaded readings (required and optional) relating to the topic

  • The readings provide some background information, and the more you know about your topic, the better you will be able to write knowledgably about it!
  • Where do you find the uploaded readings? Two places - LumiNUS and RBR


Online Readings: LumiNUS Library Readings

  • Digitized chapters of books 
  • Journal articles 
  • Links to readings 


Print Readings 

  • Required readings from books placed on 2-hour loan


You need to support your assignment work with scholarly sources too. Why is it important? 

  • Assigned readings only give one aspect i.e. the lecturer's chosen perspectives on the topic.
  • You want to demonstrate that your assignment is of good quality and well-informed.
  • Research from a comprehensive variety of sources other than given readings to provide a wider range of perspectives on the topic.
  • Support your arguments or points with extra readings to show that you have done a thorough investigation of the topic! 
  • Sources that are not scholarly may be unreliable sources.
Some Recommended Starting Points to Find More Full-Text Scholarly Sources


Some effective research tools you will find VERY USEFUL for your searching process, in order of common use and simplicity:

Have you selected the best information to cite in your assignment? 

  • Too much information? 
  • Don't know which ones are best to cite in your assignment? 
  •  The CRAAP Test can help you think critically about the information you come across and select only the best information to use. 


For more on evaluating information using the CRAAP method, watch the video below: 

The above video is © NUS Libraries, All Rights Reserved

This work by Lisette Blanco-Cerda is licensed under a CC BY NC SA 4.0 International License 

Are you citing all materials used?

  • Using a software like Zoterobib can help. It helps to
    • Create a bibliography or reference list
    • Generate in-text citations 
    • No installation required - just go to
  • To see importance of citing in avoiding plagiarism, click here


Zoterobib Library Guide:  

Before Submitting the Assignment

Final Touches 


undefined Proofread? 

  • Check for grammar 
  • Spelling 
  • Presence of minor mistakes gives the impression that your work is not professional or well thought through! 

undefined Formatting? 

  • Proper formatting can help your work look professional and give the reader a more pleasant experience. 
  • Some features to look out for: 
  • Font - some fonts, although pretty, are difficult to read.
  • Font size - don't make your reader squint! 
  • Page numbers 

undefined Citing? 

  • Cite all  works to avoid plagiarising
  • Acknowledge copyrighted materials used to avoid copyright infringement
  • [if applicable] Have you conducted a preliminary Turnitin check? 

undefined Know When to Stop! (McAdoo, 2015)

  • There will come a point where putting more information into your assignment yields marginal returns. 
  • Adding information to an already complete assignment might detract from your argument, or make it seem too long-winded
  • There will always be more information to include
  • Know when to stop

References: McAdoo, M. L. (2015). The student’s survival guide to research (pp. 59-72). Chicago: Neal-Schuman