A term paper is a special kind of academic work, which is based on original research that contains analysis and the author’s interpretation. Such a definition can cause stress in a freshman’s life! But don’t worry – below, we are providing a step-by-step guide to writing a good term paper.
How is a Term Paper Different from an Essay?
First, you should be aware that a term paper is a more complex type of academic work than an essay or an ordinary everyday quiz. Otherwise, the teacher will reject your work saying that you wrote an essay, not a term paper.
So, how is the term paper different from an essay?
While an essay is based, first of all, on theoretical sources, it feeds on other writers’ data, allows a large percentage of citations and compilation of text from various textbooks and articles, the term paper pays a lot of attention to the author’s position, and also often involves a practical study of the topic.
Simply put, the term paper differs not only in volume (otherwise it would just be a big abstract). In the term paper, you should express your opinion on a given topic and conduct a practical study of the issue. The depth of the research and argumentation of its importance – are the key features of a term paper.
Writing a Term Paper: A Step-By-Step Guide
Step #1. Chose a Topic
If your professor gives you a green light, pick a good, interesting topic. There are many ways to choose a topic for your term paper, whether you prefer old-fashioned brainstorming by writing notes or talking to another student or teacher to find out which topic is the best.
You can try searching for a good topic on the Internet. It is free and easy. However, be aware of a high risk of plagiarism, which your professor would spot and certainly will not like.
If you have selected the main subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that:
- Motivates and is original
- Meets your professor’s criteria for a good term paper topic
- There is at least some research material available on this topic
Remember that the selected topic and research area must be original and specific. A paper that matches the chronology of World War II will not be original or specific enough. A term paper on the experiences of Norwegian citizens living under German occupation during World War II would be specific and could be quite original – that’s where the next step comes into play.
Step #2. Conduct Some Preliminary Research
Pay attention to any materials that seem relevant to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your work on.
Use several types of sources, including magazines, books, and trusted websites, to make sure you don’t miss out on anything important.
Besides testing the ideas you have in mind, also look for sources that contradict your point of view to avoid the so-called confirmation bias.
- Is there something that other researchers seem to have overlooked on your chosen topic?
- Are there any hot controversies you can turn to?
- Do you have a unique perspective on your topic?
- Have there been any recent developments based on the existing research?
Step #3. Create a Plan of Your Term Paper
Before writing the main text of the term paper, it is necessary to draw up a plan.
The term paper and its work plan serve as an effective guide to use during the writing process. Basically, it is a list of key topics, statements, arguments, and evidence that you will include, broken down into sections with headings so that the paper is planned out before you start writing.
A term paper plan can help make the writing process a lot more efficient, so it’s worth investing time in creating it. The plan is drawn up by the student independently, and then agreed with the professor, and corrected, if necessary.
Step #4. Write an Introduction
The term paper introduction has some strict requirements to it that must be observed. The introduction serves as a “hook” for the entire paper, designed to move the readers from what they already know to the information that you plan to discuss or reveal. Remember that the introduction should be short and without arguments. The key element in the introduction is a thesis statement or research question that you are going to answer.
Step #5. Write the Main Body
Since any term paper consists of two chapters – theoretical and practical – plan the main body of your term paper accordingly.
First, reveal the theoretical aspect of your research area, compare different points of view. Do not forget to draw your own conclusions.
Second, conduct practical research on the topic and adjust it in accordance with the requirements of the subject being studied. Each chapter of the term paper must be divided into subchapters or paragraphs and should contain from two to five subchapters.
Step #6. Write a Conclusion
The conclusion is intended to help your professor (the audience) draw conclusions about all of your research work.
Follow your term paper text, highlighting how it all comes together to back up your thesis statement (a research question). Give a sense of finality by making sure the readers understand how you solved the issues raised in the introduction.