Whenever you are undertaking a project of any kind, you will need to do a certain amount of prep work to make sure you are staying on task. Doing prep work will ensure the best possible outcome for your project. One way to stay on task is to write the purpose of the project in the form of a purpose statement. The purpose statement describes what you want to accomplish or learn. You should review your purpose statement at each stage of your project to make sure you're staying on task and not wasting time on unnecessary information.

Ask yourself what part of your project interests you most. This will help guide you when determining your purpose. For example, with a project on the best method for dog training, you might be most interested in how the dog reacts to training, the owners' success rates with different types of training or how well a particular type of training works compared with others.

Figure out what you plan to accomplish or want to learn by completing your project. For example, if your project is a research assignment on students transitioning from junior high to high school, you might want to focus on finding out what types of coping mechanisms are used or how the students' personalities change to accommodate the new situation. The accomplishment or learning outcome for the project is entirely up to you.

Write down your basic purpose for the project. Use the answers from the previous two steps to help you write the purpose. For example, you might write, "I want to learn more about dog training and how it affects the owners."

Add more detail to your purpose statement. Once you get the basic idea down, you should make it as specific as possible. For example, the example above could be made more specific by saying, "I want to learn how dog owners cope when various methods of dog training do not succeed, as well as the reactions of owners when the first training method starts working right away compared with owners who get no results on the first try."

Continue to refine your statement of purpose as necessary. As you complete your project, you might find that you are more interested in some other aspect and want to alter your purpose statement. You also could discover that your purpose statement is incomplete and that you need to add information to it.