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School of Land Use and Environmental Change

Assignment checklists

This page contains information that you should include and avoid in your geography assignments as well as advanced tips for research projects.

All work should include an introduction and conclusion. Conclusions should summarise the major argument(s) and evidence presented in the paper.

Formulate the thesis statement

Your thesis statement should be made clear in the introduction of your paper and restated in the conclusion in your paper using different words. Make sure your thesis statement is neither too broad or too narrow or else it may be difficult to research.

Check citations

All work must be the students' original work, and must be thoroughly and properly cited. See citations and reference lists for resources on how to cite references in geography assignments.

Include a bibliography or reference list

Check with the instructor as to the acceptable formats. Chicago style is preferred.

Double check margins, fonts, and spacing

Unless directed otherwise, all work must use standard margin sizes (the MS Word default of 1”-1.25” is acceptable), standard fonts (e.g. Times New Roman, Helvetica), 10-12 point.

Use one and a half or double-spacing.

Include page numbers

These need to be typed, not handwritten, and inserted in the upper-right hand or lower-right hand corner of the document.

The use of first and second person

E.g.“I”, “we”, “you”, in most research papers and reports (especially in physical geography courses). Exceptions for the use of first person may be made when including personal experiences and observations in human geography papers.

The use of contractions

E.g. "aren't", "haven't", etc.

Missing or non-descriptive titles

A title should reflect the major theme/argument of the paper or report.

Page-long paragraphs

These type of paragraphs signal to the reader that the writer is incapable of organizing their thoughts correctly. Paragraphs should not be longer than 5-6 sentences, and should always be more than one sentence.

Language that is too casual

Do not use slang or colloquial language.

Poor sentence structure

Read sentences aloud (this works best when reading to another person who can provide feedback). Do they make sense? Do the sentences adequately convey an idea?


How many times in an assignment can one person say the same thing over and over again repeatedly in their paper? (This is what repetitiveness reads like!) Aim for conciseness.

Check out an example of how a report comes together: Sample Report


Does your paper or report, at some point, indicate to the reader the significance of the research project? Why should the reader take an interest in the research?


Do you provide a critical interpretation of the material or field observations? Often, this is the difference between a C-range mark and a higher mark. Critical interpretation requires that the researcher provide a more in-depth interpretation of the information at hand.

Example: A field report on Glacial Lake Missoula might consider both the evidence for the lake and the subsequent floods, but also the long-term impacts on fluvial hydrology in the interior Northwest, or the role of the research on Glacial Lake Missoula in estimating the patterns of other glacial lakes.


Are your graphs, charts, and other visuals cleanly presented, labelled, captioned, and sourced? Are they cleanly integrated into the body of the paper or report, or attached as an appendix?


Do you have a thorough reference list, or did you stop researching as soon as you hit the minimum source count required? By aiming for the minimum, students often stop the research process before it is complete, and they often miss out on important sources.

Harder-to-use sources

A common assumption that is made when researching for a paper or report is that a potential source is only useful if it covers the exact same (or very close to it) phenomenon that one is studying. Not so! Sometimes a source is useful for only one part—or even one point—within a paper.

For instance, using the example on Glacial Lake Missoula above, a researcher may find an article that discusses the evolution of Great Salt Lake. The lake is a remnant of a Glacial Lake Bonneville, and the article might be useful for comparing glacial processes within the paper.

Variety of sources

It is far too easy to be wooed by the world of online journal databases. Some alternative and/or supplemental sources include:

  • Books and journal articles (not otherwise accessible online) can be ordered through interlibrary loan if not available in UFV’s library.
  • Government reports and documents (e.g. planning reports, meeting minutes)
  • Non-profit and research institute reports
  • Information obtained by contacting people ‘in the know’

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