How to Write a Term Paper

How to Write a Good Term Paper?

How to Write a Term PaperDoing research will occupy most of your time on the term paper. Actually, you will be performing three overlapping tasks: reading, research, and writing. As your reading becomes increasingly focused, it becomes integral to your research. So does your writing, which includes book notes and periodic research reports to discuss with your teacher/professor.

These written reports blur the bright line between research and writing. Research is not something you do after you finish reading and before you start writing. It includes both, with a very happy result. It means that when you finally sit down to draft your term paper, you won’t be starting from scratch. Large chunks will already be in place.

Beyond this focused reading and preliminary writing, what is your research? It is the work needed to provide information, context, and contending perspectives about your topic—the work needed to answer the questions you have posed. You may acquire this basic information by reading primary sources, watching films, downloading various data, conducting interviews, or finding other sources to analyze. To provide a context for your term paper, you need to know the relevant secondary literature, that is, the analysis and interpretation scholars have already done on your topic. Read more on how to write a good term paper.

How to Choose a Term Paper Topic?

Choosing a topic is actually the number one goal when starting to write a term paper: your chief aim is to refine your topic, to sharpen and delimit your main question.

You should start distilling and reshaping your topic as early as possible, even though you will continue to do so as you research and write. It’s not something you do once at the beginning and then put behind you. Honing your topic is vital to producing a first-rate term paper, and you should keep doing it throughout the project. The question is, how exactly do you refine your topic? You begin by understanding what makes a term paper topic manageable.

Some topics, no matter how significant and interesting, are simply too big and amorphous to research well. You can’t get your arms around them. You will never really master them, and it’s very hard to write a coherent paper that truly does them justice. That leads to a second point: You need to figure out how to move from a compelling general idea to a sharply focused topic, one you can research and analyze within the time available. Read more on how to choose a term paper topic.

How to Write a Term Paper Proposal?

Now that you know what makes an interesting, manageable term paper topic, you also know the main points to include in a proposal. It should briefly explain why it is interesting and how you are going to manage it.

Different departments have different rules for term paper proposals, saying when they are due (usually near the end of junior year or the beginning of senior year) and how long they should be (usually a page or two). You can find out the specifics from a departmental administrator or perhaps from the department’s Web site. It’s essential to know these administrative details, and you should find them out now. But they are separate from the intellectual issues we cover here.

Whatever the department regulations, all term paper proposals need to contain a few key points about what you intend to do. In clear, concise language, your proposal should explain:

  • What your main question or topic is
  • Why it matters
  • How you plan to approach the analysis

Read more on how to write a term paper proposal.

How to Write a Term Paper Introduction?

You should start your research paper by taking control of the subject matter. Raise the questions you want to raise, say why they are important, and state your argument. Then, after developing your argument and evidence in the middle sections, bring your paper to a strong conclusion by drawing together your answers, insights, and judgments.

Goals of Term Paper Introduction:

The introductory section of the term paper should do three things:

  • Entice the reader into the subject matter, beginning with a compelling anecdote, concrete example, real-life puzzle, or powerful overview, which should come in the first paragraph.
  • Explain the topic you are studying, the material you will cover, and your argument about it; this overview of the project should come soon after the opening paragraphs.
  • Orient your reader by giving a “road map” for the overall paper, explaining briefly the order of upcoming sections and what each will do; this should come at the end of the introductory section.

Let’s see how these goals are accomplished. How can you do them well? How can you avoid the pitfalls? Read more on how to write a term paper introduction.

How to Write a Term Paper Thesis?

The core of your term paper thesis statement should be your argument. An argument, in this sense, does not mean a dispute or a bald unsupported statement of views. It means a well-reasoned perspective on your subject, supported by logic or evidence, presented fairly.

It’s not your opinion, shouted to the whole bar. It’s not a load of evidence, dumped in your poor reader’s lap. It’s not a debating game or legal proceeding, in which you present only the facts that help your side. It’s not a public relations exercise, where you spin everything to fit some preconceived notion.

It’s none of those. Rather, it is your distinctive viewpoint and your conclusions, backed by logical arguments and buttressed by evidence you have assembled, all of it presented honestly, without bias. This reasoned viewpoint—this argument—is your term paper thesis. Read more on how to write a term paper thesis.

How to Write a Term Paper Outline?

An outline is an ordered list of the topics covered in a term paper. It is useful to both writer and reader. The writer who writes from an outline is less likely to stray from the point or to commit a structural error—overdeveloping one topic while skimping on another, for example. The reader, in turn, benefits from the outline in the form of a complete and detailed table of contents.

The conventions of formal outlining require that main ideas be designated by Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, and so on). Sub-ideas branching off from the main ideas are designated by capital letters (A, B, C, D, and so on). Subdivisions of these sub-ideas are designated by Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on). And minor ideas are designated by lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, and so on). Here is an example of the term paper outline template:

I. Main idea

A. Sub-idea

B. Sub-idea

1. Division of a sub-idea

2. Division of a sub-idea

a. Minor idea

b. Minor idea

II. Main idea

The presumption behind this arrangement is obvious: You do not merely generalize; you support your contentions and propositions with examples and details. Read more on how to write a term paper outline.

How to Write a Term Paper Conclusion?

Your term paper should have a strong, succinct concluding section, where you draw together your findings. Think of it as a conclusion, not a summary. The difference is that you are reaching overall judgments about your topic, not summarizing everything you wrote about it. How to write a conclusion for a term paper? The focus should be on:

  • Saying what your research has found, what the findings mean, and how well they support the argument of your thesis
  • Establishing the limits of your argument: How widely does it apply? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your method? How clear-cut are your findings?
  • Explaining how your findings and argument fit into your field, relating them to answers others have given and to the existing literature.

You may also want to add some concise comments about possible future developments or what kind of research should come next, but don’t lay it on too thick. Read more on how to write a term paper conclusion.

How to Write an Term Paper Abstract?

Abstracts are summaries written to give readers the gist of a report or presentation. Sometimes they are published in conference proceedings or databases. In some academic fields, you may be required to include an abstract in a report or as a preview of a presentation you plan to give at an academic or professional conference. Abstracts are brief, typically 100–200 words, sometimes even shorter. How to write an abstract for a term paper? Three common kinds of abstracts are informative abstracts, descriptive abstracts, and proposal abstracts. Read more on how to write a term paper abstract.