As you prepare to write, reread the assignment’s instructions closely and make notes. Ensure that you clearly understand your professor’s expectations, notably:

  • The assignment’s objectives (they must be clearly established)
  • The length required and the due date
  • The resources that you should use and/or avoid. Do you have to include citations or not? Is a bibliography required or not?

In the case of uncertainties, it is your responsibility to clarify with your professor. After all, you are the one who must do the assignment.

  • Thesis
  • Research
  • Plan
  • Revision
  • Assignment Structure

A thesis, or a hypothesis, is an idea, a point of view that you use in your reflection process and that guides your research, your readings, and, of course, your writing. (In other words, it helps you determine what you would like to demonstrate in your assignment).

When writing, it is possible that your thesis or hypothesis will transform because of new information discovered, and due to a new way of research analysis and reflection that you choose to pursue. That is normal and even desired. The more that your writing advances, the more that your thesis will transform and become more definitive.

A thesis or a hypothesis help to guide reflection and to decide the order of your ideas. Therefore, they help you to structure your assignment in a logical manner. Hence, it is important for you to have a thesis or a hypothesis.

View SPARK’s resource on developing a working thesis 

View uOttawa’s resource on constructing a thesis statement 

PRO TIP: Once you’ve created a working thesis statement, read it over and ask yourself the question, “So, what?” A good thesis statement will clearly explain the stance that you are making on the topic of your paper. In other words, your thesis should not leave your reader asking “So what?”

To organize your reflection, your research, the readings determine the main fixtures of your subject to arrive at a research question. The answers to the 5Ws will allow you to identify the dimensions of the subject that you wish to tackle. You will then know which readings to use.

Access the SPARK Research Strategies Module

Access the SPARK Guide – Combining Key Words

Access the SPARK Guide – Research Strategies

Access the UofOttawa Fuide (see the Research section, p. 52)

PRO TIP: For more information, research strategies, and research help, please visit York University’s Library website!

The plan is a mandatory passage to organize your ideas, your arguments, your examples, your proofs, and all the information necessary in a coherent structure. Most word processing software offer features that make it easy to draft and revise the outline as you write. 

Certain writers start to write with a simple list of arguments. The list is reorganized as they write to elaborate a working thesis and put emphasis on the relations between different arguments. Others write rough drafts of sentences and paragraphs from the beginning and use the copy and paste function of their word processing software to organize their text throughout their progression. Attend our workshop on the structure of a text to learn more.

Access an example plan from SPARK

Access the UofOttawa guide (see section the Plan, p.55)

PRO TIP: It is always a good idea to understand the citation and formatting style of your assignment before creating your outline; it will help you to translate your outline into your first draft. 

View SPARK’s Essay Formatting Resource

It is important to review your work to ensure that your readers will be concentrating on your ideas and are not distracted by grammar and language issues.

Of course, you can review your work throughout the writing process. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the writing process, it is important to work on the content that your sentences dwell on. As you write, you will remove or modify your ideas. It is therefore more efficient to not overly focus your attention to the details until your draft is relatively complete.

Access the SPARK verification list

Access the UofOttawa revision guide (see the section La révision, p. 61)

Access the Glendon rubric

It is important to edit your essay to ensure that readers focus on your ideas rather than on distracting problems of language and grammar.

While you can edit your essay at any point in the writing process, during the early phases of your writing it is more important to work with the content of your essay than with the details of your sentences. As you write you are likely to remove or substantially alter many of your ideas; thus, it is more efficient to delay paying close attention to sentence details until you have a relatively complete draft.

View SPARK’s Editing Checklist

View uOttawa’s Editing Resource

View Glendon’s Grading Rubric


Please see the grammar page of our website for more grammatical standards.

The structure of a research work means its form or organisation. There is not a singular structure of a university assignment. Nevertheless, certain common structural elements exist, notably :

  • Title page
  • Introduction
  • The body (contains multiple paragraphs and citations)
  • Conclusion

Each of these parts has a specific function in its elaboration and reflection. It is important to understand each of the parts.

Attend our workshop on essay structure to learn more

Access the SPARK Formatting Guide

Access the Spark Writing Process

Access the Spark guide to writing an introduction

Access the Spark guide to writing a conclusion

Access the Glendon university writing guide

Access the UofOttawa guide