2 Getting started with your assignments

Learning Objectives

In this chapter you will learn…

  • About what is expected of you at an academic institution
  • About getting started with your assignment work
  • About key sources you can use for your assignments: books and journal articles

Academic expectations

“Beginning University is exciting, but can also be daunting, particularly when remote learning is involved. It is important to seek the many supports available to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us as lecturers, we are still navigating this different world too and want to help as much as we can. Learn to ask questions, learn to think critically and learn to be open to new experiences.”

Catherine Haughton, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery, NUI Galway

Getting started with your assignments

One of the toughest parts of third-level work can simply be knowing how to get started with an assignment. Check out the following video for some ideas on how to go about doing that.


You may want to know more about the types of resources mentioned in the Getting Started with Your Assignment video. Books can be great for finding out background information and context about a topic – but you may be able to find more current information published in a journal article.

Finding books and journal articles

A lot of books are published in electronic format these days and so are accessible straight from the Library catalogue. The following video shows you how to do so:


Academic or scholarly journal articles are very particular kinds of information sources. They are where scholars working in their specialized fields of study publish their work – to let other specialists, students and anyone else interested know the latest of what’s going on in their work. Due to factors like technical or specialized language, these sources of information can be challenging at first, but are well worth digging into.

The following video explains what exactly a journal is:


It can be useful to navigate to a journal (remember, almost all journals are in electronic format now and can be accessed online through the Library catalogue) and browse through it, but more usually, you’ll be looking for a specific journal article within a journal. The following video explains the difference between a journal and a journal article:


Finally, you might have heard or will hear people talk about ‘peer-reviewed’ journals and journal articles. Peer review is an important part of the publication of scholarly information including journal articles. In addition to this information being written by experts in the field, peer-review accounts for why scholary information is considered to be highly authoritative.

Find out more about peer-reviewed journals and journal articles in the following video:


This chapter has included information on finding key source types: books and journal articles. The Library holds information in a number of other formats. Check out Appendix A at the end of this guidebook for a list of guides for a wider number of source formats.


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First Year In: FYI Copyright © by NUI Galway Academic Skills Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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