The following is a list of common characteristics for college-level research assignments. Not all research assignments are the same. When in doubt, your course instructor is the best resource for more information.
You may be assigned a topic or your professor may ask you to choose from a list. In more advanced classes, you may be allowed to pick your own topic within certain limits. The topic will be one that is relevant to the course content and researchable.
Your instructor will usually give you some idea of how long your paper/presentation should be, which will help give you an understanding of the scope of your research.
Number of sources
You may be given requirements for a certain number of sources, which is another clue about the depth of the research you will be conducting.
In order to practice academic integrity and avoid plagiarism, you will be expected to cite the sources you use and to format those citations using a formal citation style.
Look for a due date so that you can set goals for completing different stages of the assignment to help keep you on track.