Skip to Main Content

Evaluating Information in the Research Process: Step 1: Do Initial Planning

Created by Health Science Librarians

Step 1: Do Initial Planning

 Step 1: Do Initial Planning

Consider your assignment, goals, and situation 

The assignment  

What does the assignment require you to do? If you aren’t sure, get clarification. 

  • When is it due? 

  • How much work do you think it will require?  See Create a Project Plan below for help estimating this.

  • How much leeway does it give you in choosing a topic or approach?  

  • Will it help you achieve your goals? 

If it would help to modify the assignment in some way, consider negotiating with your instructor or employer. 

Your goals  

Think carefully about your goals before you decide to take on an assignment. 

  • Purpose -- what is your mission?  
  • Educational goals -- what do you wish to learn?  

  • Career goals -- what do you want to achieve in your career? 

Your situation

  • Are you prepared emotionally and intellectually for this assignment?
  • Considering your other responsibilities, do you have time and energy to do this assignment? 

Decision: Go ahead with project? 

Answer this question: Do I really want to do this assignment? 

  • If the answer is no, explore your alternatives. Perhaps you need to negotiate a different assignment, or drop your class. Good luck!
  • If the answer is yes, you are in a good position to get started, because you made a conscious decision to go forward. 

“What if I’m not excited about this assignment, but it is required for achieving a long-term goal I really want to accomplish?” 

Consider the perspective of Victor Frankl (1984), who believed that a person who has a meaningful purpose can cope with almost any situation. Keep your eye on your long-term goal, and you can do whatever it takes to get there. 

Create a project plan 

A project plan can be very informal. The purpose is not to impress anyone but to help yourself. By writing down some sort of plan, you give yourself some guidelines. 

It is usually impossible to anticipate all the tasks that will need to be done or exactly how long they will take. But a plan helps you get started. 

  • List all the tasks involved in your project 
  • Organize the tasks in sequence, and estimate the duration of each task 
  • Identify key milestones and dates for accomplishing them, backing up from the due date for the finished project
  • Devise a strategy for accessing and using information and other resources, including 
    • when and how to access online information 
    • obtaining sources of information not available online 
    • people resources (such as your instructor, colleagues, or librarians) 

Outcomes for Step 1: Do Initial Planning

  • A clear understanding of what is required for this project 
  • A decision about going ahead with the project 
  • A project plan 

NEXT: Step 2, Choose a Topic