Before you begin work on any research project, examine the assignment closely for any requirements.
Q. How long is the paper?
This could be a page length, a page range, a word count, etc.
Q. How many sources?
You will need three secondary sources of literary criticism.
Q. What kind of sources?
You may use a variety of credible sources for your essay. Options for credible sources include literary criticism books, historical books, eBooks, and library database sources.
You may not use secondary sources found on the open internet, such as Google or Wikipedia.
Q. How do you cite sources?
Q. What is due?
What do you have to turn in? Is it just a paper? Are there other pieces like a rough draft, outline, summary, reading response, a tutorial, etc. Make note of all the parts of the assignment and create a checklist to make sure you don't leave anything out.
Q. When is it due?
How long do you have to work on this project? Is there one due date for everything or are there multiple due dates for different parts of the assignment? Plan out your time, so you don't get stuck doing all the work at the last minute. Plan extra time in case you have problems or get stuck.
Q. What other requirements should you make note of?
Are there requirements to include a certain number of quotes or paraphrases? Do you need to have a certain number of paragraphs? Do you need visuals/images? Make note of any other requirements on the assignment sheet, and ask your instructor for clarification on any parts you're not sure about.
The first thing you need to do before you begin a research project is to select a topic that you're going to write about. Consider the following:
Q. Do you have a choice?
Your essay will explore the following topic: Explain the symbolism of Joseph Conrad's title The Heart of Darkness through the exploration of one or more of the following themes: alienation, insanity, violence, and/or racism. In your discussion, consider characters, setting, and/or point of view.
Q. Do you have an interest?
If you have a choice on what topic you can choose, consider which one you find the most interesting. Which topic do you think would be the easiest to research? Which topic would you have the most to say about?
Q. Are there sources?
Before you totally commit to a topic, you'll want to make sure that there are enough outside sources on the topic for your assignment. Not every topic is going to have information written about it. Newer topics or topics that aren't as well known may be harder to find sources for. Do some searching in the library's databases to make sure there are sources, and Ask-A-Librarian to double-check if you're not sure there are enough sources for a topic you're really interested in.