Furthermore, asking the professor for clarification shows initiative–that you care about the assignment.
Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.
That is, if the paper is supposed to be 5 pages, don’t spend more than 2.5 hours on research (maximum).
Spending any more time than this puts you at a point of diminishing returns. If you find that you need more info after you start writing, you can always do more research.
To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.
As I explained in my guide to library research, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper researching.
The goal of your initial research session is to give you just enough material to start writing.
Get into the library or database, find your sources, take your notes, and then get to writing.“It’s impossible to figure out every detail of your argument before you sit down, look at your sources, and actually try to write.
After all, writing a paper isn’t like working math problems or reading a chapter of a book.
As frustrating as those activities can be, they always seemed more finite than the monumental task of “writing a paper.” You can’t just open the book and start working: you have to brainstorm, research, outline, draft, edit, and add those pesky citations.