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Choosing & Developing a Topic: Getting started

Understand Your Assignment

Read your assignment carefully then ask yourself:

What am I being asked to do?

  • report information
  • look at both sides of an issue
  • argue for one side
  • analyze a work
  • compare and contrast

What are the technical details?

  • due date
  • length
  • format
  • citation style

What sources can I use?

  • books
  • scholarly or peer-reviewed journals
  • primary or secondary sources
  • websites
  • personal opinions

If you have questions about your assignment consult your instructor or the Learning Center.

Read your assignment carefully a short YouTube video from the Pollak Library at Cal State Fullerton

Assignment Calculator

Try the assignment calculator from the University of Minnesota.  It gives you a possible schedule to follow in order to finish your assignment on time! 

 Assignment Calculator

Assignment Calculator from Colorado State University Libraries

Assignment Calculator from San Jose State University

The Research Process or Finding Information for Your Project

Finding information for your assignments is a process and can involve the following steps:

  1. Choose and develop a topic
  2. Select and search various sources of information (books, articles, websites)
  3. Evaluate what you find.  Does the information answer your questions or meet your needs?  Is it reliable?  Is it what your instructor wants?
  4. If necessary, narrow or broaden your search. 
  5. Write and cite your research paper, essay, speech, or project.

Determining Information Need  

(a short YouTube video about the research process from the Pollak Library at Cal State Fullerton)


Starting Points for Your Library Research

YCCC Subject Guides are starting points for your research and were created to help you find information for your assignments within specific subject areas. 

Our subject guides will recommend:

  • words to use in your searches (your keywords)
  • books, dvds, cds, or videos
  • article databases to help you find scholarly journal or magazine articles
  • websites

 If no Subject Guide fits your needs start on the YCCCLibrary home page to begin your research.