How To Write a Term Paper: A Guide That Works

How To Write a Term Paper: A Guide That Works

How to write a term paper

Once you’ve started your university career, you are going to be asked to present a term paper. What’s the difference between a term paper and a research paper? How can you write a good term? What’s the best way to structure it? Where can you find some tips to make the writing process faster? In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips to help you prepare a term paper quickly and professionally.

What Is a Term Paper… And What Is The First Step?

A term paper is a critical and analytical report on the topic or subject that you covered within the course of studies. It usually consists of two separate but equally important aspects: your own thoughts about the topic and a demonstration of your understanding of the existing literature. The main goal of this assignment is to summarize the material you learned and showcase your understanding of the topic. This aspect makes the term paper a universal instrument of assessing student’s proficiency. It also explains why term papers cost so many points of your course grade.

We usually associate a term paper with a research paper, but although the concepts are quite similar, a research paper requires a more academic approach and a deeper investigation into the literature of your field of study.

To write an outstanding college term paper, you must understand that your professor has requested it in order to test your analytical thinking skills. You must collect relevant data, analyze it, and then make a summary or solve a particular problem. Such skills are highly relevant to the business world, so this type of the task is as practical as it is educational.

So, let’s start the preparation!

Before you begin writing

Preparing to write a term paper

Unfortunately, there is no magical recipe that allows you to get everything done fast. You will need to choose the best way forward in whatever situation you find yourself, but here are some tips to help you prepare for the assignment.

To begin with, take the research stage seriously. Sometimes, when students are really interested in a topic, they only want to present their personal ideas about the problem. Unfortunately, if you’re not completely familiar with all the data from the various sources, you will need to reinvent the bicycle.

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In the initial stages of your research, investigate everything you can find on the topic. This may sound like a tall order, but you’ll find that it doesn’t actually entail that much reading. At this point you are only compiling the research, so you will be skimming through numerous prospects rather than reading them completely. Bear in mind that your aim is to get acquainted with the various aspects of your problem. The term paper summarizes the knowledge you gained within a course, just like the coursework; and requires to familiarize yourself with the research that other people have already made on your topic.

Thinking that your opinions are completely original and unique is quite egocentric, and it can get you into trouble. So, “your” thoughts about the problem are usually just somebody else’s statements that you have rephrased (or even a well-established academic concept!). Remember that your professor will be familiar with all the literature surrounding the issue: if you merely rewrite someone else’s thoughts and present them as your own (even if you don’t realize doing it), be prepared for criticism!

Applying a Structure To Your Term Paper

Structuring a term paper

Once you have read all the leading authors and their approaches to your problem, it’s time to create a structure for your work. This is not yet an outline; you just need to decide what to write about. Sketch out the topic for the theoretical portion of your work and think about practical aspects and how you can approach the research in the best possible way.

At this point, you really need to call or email your supervisor. Your professor will have seen hundreds of term papers like yours (i.e., they have not yet been written, but a definite idea exists!) and will be prepared to give you feedback and advice. He or she will tell you what literature you have omitted, offer suggestions about what you should read, and give you feedback about your paper. It may well be that your approach has already occurred to somebody else, in which case there is no need to repeat it.

Choosing a Topic: Easy as Riding a Bike?

When you choose your topic, make sure you choose something that you are interested in. That’s our advice if you want a painless term paper. If you prefer to investigate a field that you’ve never really explored before, you can challenge yourself to do that, too. That might be sophisticated, but why not?

If you decide to investigate a topic or a problem that you are pretty familiar with, your writing will be more fluid. You will focus your attention on a specific aspect of the chosen field and expand your knowledge within that scope. On the contrary, choosing an unfamiliar subject matter can wash out your expertise.

Be prepared to change the topic if you find out that your research isn’t going anywhere. It might occur that you presuppose that your topic has a potential but somewhere at the stage of initial research, you find that it just won’t work. It’s always a good idea to consider two or three topics when you kick off the term paper writing – even if they are just different ways of examining the same problem. By doing this, you will be able to choose the best version, which may not be the one you started with at all!

Formulating a Thesis statement

Writing a proper thesis statement can also be challenging. To begin with, write down a couple of prominent ideas or concepts, then try to make rough drafts of them to see how they’ll work in the structural framework. You will probably find that one idea fits your style, interests, and knowledge base: you can choose that one as your thesis statement.

Remember that the thesis statement is the skeleton, the central concept of your paper. It is the elemental attribute of almost any academic paper – from master’s thesis to a simple five paragraph essay. If you do a thorough job on it, you will find that writing (and defending!) your argument is much easier.

Be aware that all of these stages are parts of a procedure – one leads to another. When writing a term paper, you should collect the material and wrap it up at the same time.

Planning – The Key To Success

Some people claim that they can write a term paper without any planning. In our opinion, this is impossible. If you don’t have a postgraduate degree and you aren’t a certified genius, you need to prepare an outline for your project. It may come as a surprise, but even people who claim otherwise actually prepare outlines – in their heads. But if you don’t have that much experience, use a pencil and your notebook to ensure that you don’t forget anything.

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That’s when we get to preparing your first draft. There’s only one thing to add here: do as many drafts as you need in order to achieve your goal. Understand that your aim is to create an excellent term paper and keep working at it until you are satisfied.

Once you have all the required information, remember to…

Write Everything In The Proper Section!

term paper outline

In the Introduction, state the topic that you are going to investigate and the context of your work. This is the critical ‘selling’ moment of your work. In a nutshell, your introduction combined with a conclusion should give a sneak peek into what the whole paper is about. If your introduction is well-prepared, it will be quite complacent about the body of your project. The introduction must include an abstract that presents your thesis statement. You should explain your motivation (why should the reader be concerned about this problem?), your methods (what scientific tools did you use?), and the results (what you achieved).

The Literature Review totally corresponds to its name – it is here to review the literature you compiled. Your professor will double check it to make sure that you understand the context of your argument. One more thing to add is: collect all the information you can! Ideally, you should read or at least glance through every book and author that you can find on the topic. Think of your task as a fascinating journey: if you approach it like that, reading hundreds of pages won’t seem like that much of a challenge.

In the Discussion, you must present the interpretations of the problem. Be honest, explain what you pieces of data you don’t agree with and what ideas and concepts you support. This section connects the dots between theory and practice when writing a term paper. Wherever possible, provide several interpretations of the subject matter, then choose the one(s) that are most relevant to the case you are presenting.

In the Body, focus on those arguments that prove your thesis statement. This section must be absolutely logical. If you have chosen a more complicated topic, use heading and sub-headings to improve the appearance of this section. While writing the body, keep your target audience (your professors) in mind. In other words, don’t just record the obvious causes/effects/solutions but also showcase your own findings – what you have discovered and how that proves your thesis statement. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the details and you will stun your readers with the prolific mastery of the topic.

Now, the Conclusion is her to summarize both the content and the purpose of the paper. The most challenging part is not to make it too dry. Reiterate your thesis statement and briefly show how your results justified your proposition. At the very end, you can suggest a call to action or pose a rhetorical question or statement that leaves your reader wanting more.

What to do next?

When you have finished, reread your work a couple of times. You will almost certainly find a few faults, whether they are contextual, factual, syntactical, grammatical, or even simple spelling mistakes. A very useful tip is to wait for two or three days after writing your term paper to proofread it afterward. Your brain will have time to process the information, and you’ll be able to look at it with a fresh view.

When proofreading, take care to polish the structural problems. The skeleton (the logic and the thesis statement) should make sense. If they don’t, try to approach the problem from another perspective. The changes may take some time, but bear in mind that your objective is to produce a professional work. Be patient!

After that, print the term paper. The human eye processes information differently on the paper than on a computer screen; that’s why you need to print it and take one final look for any possible mistakes. Even if you don’t see any serious defects, pay attention to formatting, punctuation, and synonyms. It’s an academic text, so make it shine!

Term Paper Sample

Be sure to check the sample of a term paper, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to perfect your own writing. Link: Term Paper Sample: Consumer Buying Behavior.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Term Paper Writing

tips on term paper writing

Do’s: Don’ts:
  • Write down every idea you have, even if there’s no structure to them. Just record any phrases, tips, quotes or thoughts you come across. This is an outstanding way to collect a lot of material.
  • Follow your outline, but don’t be a slave to it. Many people dedicate too much effort to making their term papers conform to their outlines. Although a plan or outline is one of the best things you can have, you must be flexible. The only thing we don’t recommend is that you start with the Introduction. This is usually written at the end, once you have completed the rest of the paper.
  • Remember to cite your sources whenever you refer to someone else’s thoughts or works. Do that from the first quote, even in the draft. This is important because it is all too easy to forget where the information comes from. If you do forget and lose the reference, don’t panic: just Google it or use Google Scholar. It’s a handy tool for finding quotes from notable works.
  • Peer-check your work with a colleague. Nobody is perfect, and your project will probably benefit from another pair of eyes to check for faults. We always recommend that you check your colleague’s work while he or she checks yours: a win-win situation!
  • Don’t presume that all your ideas are original. It’s heart-breaking and frustrating to have to rewrite everything, so we want to emphasize one more time: read, read, and read! If you do, you’ll have the proper tools to complete any academic task that is set for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to start writing before you have finished investigating all the literature – in fact, have the courage to start writing as soon as you examine the first book on the topic. It’s better to rewrite your content than to sit with a blank piece of paper in front of you. Remember, you can always change it later!
  • Don’t try to overwrite. This approach seems like a charm to most students, but it can be a real dilemma for those who want to write everything they know. Too many quotes, too many citations, additional biographical information… those are not what the professor wants to read. Be as precise and professional as possible.
  • Don’t simplify your language. Your use of language is a good indication of your level of thinking. Every word has its semantics (meaning). When you use words with specific semantic applications, you are demonstrating your knowledge, too.

There you have the most important tips to help you succeed in writing a term paper. Now it’s up to you to stop reading and start writing!

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