What can you learn about the professor’s expectations by asking directly?
If you haven’t been able to learn much from the assignment sheet or the samples, be sure to ask for more information.
In particular, be sure to find out why the teacher is having you write the paper. Some teachers assign papers to help students learn information or expand their thinking on an issue. For these papers, "conventions" of academic papers are often less important than showing what you’ve learned or thought about. But some teachers assign papers to help students learn what it’s like to write in a specific discipline. For these teachers, academic "conventions" are extremely important.