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Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong Baptist University Library

Education Studies Subject Guide: Write a paper

Research your topic

 Research your topic

After conducting some preliminary background reading, form your research question. This states concisely your perception that something needs to be explored, and can help guide you through the rest of the process.

Check out this great interactive tutorial on how to develop a research question
(Thanks to Arizona State Library for creating this tutorial and making it freely available!)

You will often want to start with the resources and readings that your professor recommends. However, you will normally be expected to also search for materials yourself. Use the resources described in this guide to find background information, books, and articles.

Reading and note-taking

Work through sources that you find systematically. You cannot include everything in your assignment, so select only the most important for inclusion. Linear reading (i.e. reading a whole article/book from beginning to end) is not a good strategy. Instead, actively skim the sources you find using the following methodology:

  1. Analyze the title and subtitle
  2. For books, examine the table of contents. For articles, read the abstract
  3. Read the last chapter/section first
  4. Read the introduction
  5. Target the most important chapters of a book, or sections of an article

Look for both quality and quantity in sources. Can you find enough sources to write about your proposed topic, or are there so many that the topic needs to be narrowed further? When in doubt, ask a librarian!​

Make notes as you read. Good notes are essential to avoiding plagiarism when it comes time to write. Use online tools to help you make and organize notes. Try recording your notes systematically, which will help you generate understanding and facilitate critical writing. Carefully note the page references of where you found specific information. The table below illustrates how you might go about systematically recording research studies:

Source Age of children Participants Research design Main findings Reflections
Huang, Y., Li, H., & Fong, R. (2016). Using augmented reality in early art education: A case study in Hong Kong kindergarten. Early Child Development and Care, 186(6), 879–894. 4 to 5 (K2) Children from a single class at a "typical Chinese kindergarten in Hong Kong" (p. 882). Also the class teacher, ICT teacher, principal, and 2 parent volunteers.

Exploratory and design-based investigation of supplemental learning effect of AR-based education. 3 workshops of 20-30 mins held within 2 weeks.

Data collection:

  • Participant observation
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Survey
  • Positive response from children to AR activities
  • Teachers and parents accepting of AR as a classroom activity, but concern expressed about potential side-effects (pp. 891-882).
Further work needed to explore these findings, given limitations of sample size.

The above advice is adapted from Writing HistoryGrad School Essentials, and The Good Writing Guide for Education Students



Turnitin is an online plagiarism prevention platform that can compare submitted academic assignments against an extensive database of published and unpublished information, and provide a report on the degree of similarity between the assignment and the material in that database.  

According to University policy, students should be able to submit their assignments to Turnitin and review the similarity report prior to final submission. To facilitate this, the Library maintains a practice Turnitin Assignment on a designated course site on HKBU and SCE Moodle. Students can self-enroll into this course to submit their assignments.

Click here for more information about Turnitin

Write your assignment

 Write your assignment

You will commonly be asked to respond to assignment questions in the form of a traditional essay. Check with your professor if you are not sure what form of academic writing you are expected to adopt for an assignment.

Before beginning your assignment, take some time to do some planning. If you are relatively inexperienced writer, you may need to plan by writing things down more. A good basic structure for a plan is as follows:

  • Introduce your topic in a way that will engage your reader
  • Make your points
  • Conclude with the most important point that you have made and explain the implications

The above advice is adapted from The Good Writing Guide for Education Students