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Analyse the brief

Brainstorming is a great way to organise your thoughts on an assignment topic and can be done at any point in the assignment journey. At this point, when you’re considering the question and before you begin your research, you may want to capture everything you already know about the topic. This knowledge may come from personal experience, your lectures or any reading you have done to date.

When – You can brainstorm at any time during your assignment writing when you get stuck. Just put your assignment to the side and brainstorm again.

Why – Brainstorming gets your ideas out and potentially stirs up new ones. And it’s fast. Don’t agonise or organise. Try to limit your brain storming sessions to two minutes.

What – it is free thinking that engages you with what you are going to write about.

How – Set a time for two minutes and move to somewhere quiet and comfortable (or noisy and uncomfortable, if that works for you!). Write the topic and circle it in the middle of your page. Now write everything that comes to mind around the topic. Just write, write, and write whilst always focusing on the central topic. You can write individual words, phrases, use symbols, but do not write full sentences. Don’t stop and think too much and don’t plan. Accept that it will be a messy process.

You need a large piece of paper or white board or even use a wall (that you can wipe clean) and a marker, preferably your favourite colour.

  • No structuring
  • No clustering
  • No linking
  • No pausing
  • No self-judging, analysing, evaluating, criticising.

It is important to write your thoughts freely, which can be challenging when we’re so conditioned to structure and plan before we even give ourselves a chance to think. Remember this is a two minute activity and will be followed by the planning. It’s important, however, that you include this step to stimulate your thinking and know that it’ll save you time over the following stages of mapping, planning, structuring and writing your assignment.

Remember, it’s meant to look messy. At this stage, it’s not about focusing on grammar, structure nor planning, but just on stirring up your thinking to bring out all that you know about the topic before you start researching the topic.

Copyright statement: The content on this page is based on the Curtin University Library UniSkills Analyse the brief module which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence. Examples have been customised for Trinity but otherwise the text is mostly the same.

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