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Writing Guide: Step 3: Planning your assignment

This guide covers: understanding the essay question; searching databases and organising research; the writing process: critical thinking and note-taking; referencing and citing in text, and using academic language.

Step 3

Pre Writing Strategies

The pre-writing phase can be the most difficult.  It is important to think about your topic in different ways.  The 100 Question Technique can give you great direction for research and establish a position on your topic.

How the strategy works?

Basically, think up 100 questions around your questions without providing any answers.

Example Question

Boutique distilleries, wineries and breweries can be tourism drawcards in rural and regional areas.  Examine the social, cultural and economic impact of small-scale alcohol production on local communities and discuss whether such ventures are beneficial for regional areas.


Before taking a stand on this topic or position, think up 100 questions around your topic.


Think about how you have expanded your knowledge on the topic and how you might have considered aspects, factors, implications and different perspectives around your topic.

TIP This strategy can be most useful when you feel as though you don't have enough background knowledge  or discipline specific knowledge to even start the assignment.

Critical questions

There are two types of critical questions, practical questions and focusing questions.

Practical questions:

  • Do I understand the task/question? (if not, talk to your lecturer/tutor or a learning adviser)
  • How does this link with what we have seen in class?
  • Why have the lecturers asked this question (what do they want me to learn)?
  • What type of assignment is this, and how do I need to use my information?

Focusing questions:

Essay Tips

10 Tips to help you plan your assignment

How to plan your assignment

The following tools can assist with planning your assignment.  Take a look and pick one that works for you.

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