How to Write a Term Paper: A Practical Guide

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How to Write a Term Paper

What is a term paper? Is it every student’s worst nightmare, or an ordinary assignment that everyone can handle? In this guide, we will demystify a term paper by showing what it is, and what itโ€™s not, as well as give expertly chosen recommendations on writing a perfect term paper from scratch.ย ย 

What is a Term Paper?

A term paper is a type of written work that no student can escape doing at the end of a study term. Itโ€™s definitely more than a simple essay in terms of complexity and length. At the same time, it is not as horrible as coursework or a thesis measured in sleepless nights devoted to writing one.ย ย 

The average length requirement for a term paper is 20-35 pages. Students are free to choose the topics that they prefer, though, they can also receive a list of fixed-term paper topics from their supervisor.ย 

In a term paper, it is necessary to reveal and use all the knowledge that teachers shared with you during an academic term. Therefore, demonstration of the level of knowledge and the ability to analyze and synthesize the studying material to produce new knowledge โ€“ are the main objectives of a term paper.

How to Start a Term Paper

Beginning working on a term paper is the most responsible part. Here, everyone needs to pass several important milestones:ย ย 

  1. Select a supervisor. A great share of a term paperโ€™s success depends on the supervisor or your mentor. This person needs to be highly competent and motivated to help you succeed, steer your initial steps, provide feedback, etc. In case you donโ€™t have a choice of supervisors, itโ€™s highly advisable to approach the professor of your term paperโ€™s discipline and ask for their guidance. Or ask any other teacher you like to help you with the research โ€“ itโ€™s unlikely they will refuse you.
  2. Decide on a topic. The topic has to be chosen with your interests in mind. Ideally, the topic you choose will be resourceful enough to be continued in your graduate and post-graduate work. For example, if you are interested in Theoretical Physics, you can come up with the following topics:
    • The Holographic Theory: Exploring the Idea that Our Universe is Encoded on its Boundary;
    • What The James Webb Telescope Revealed About the Early Period of Cosmos: Analysis and Critique;
    • The Quest for Unified Theory of Everything: A Skeptical Viewย ย ย 
  3. Make a term paper outline. A good outline is already half the battle. An outline should include a research focus, thesis statement, and approximate parts of a term paper to agree with your supervisor. Be ready to receive feedback and even critique, and adjust your draft accordingly. Making lots of changes at this stage is quite normal; the idea is to have a plan for further actions.
  4. Literature review. Now itโ€™s the right time to start studying the necessary literature on your topic. According to the term paper format, itโ€™s essential to use a wide variety of sources, e.g.:
    • research papers;
    • scientific articles;
    • publications in foreign magazines;
    • books;
    • articles in newspapers;
    • information from trusted scientific resources on the Internet.

Ideally, you should end up with at least 20 different sources. Later, when writing a term paper, you can make relevant marks (references) in the text leading to particular sources โ€“ this trick will make it easier for you to compose the correct referencing list.

Writing Term Paper Introduction

If you hate writing an introduction like most students do โ€“ there is a way around your problem. The solution is called a postponed introduction, and it stipulates writing only a rough sketch of it at first, i.e., the statement of the research problem and a thesis statement. Then you can directly move on to the main part, and even draft the conclusion. Only after that may you come back to the introduction and finish it with confidence:

  1. that your research focus has led you to worthy discoveries/findings;
  2. that your thesis statement perfectly matches the research methods, design, and results.

Of course, you can adjust and tweak both the research question and your thesis, as well as play around with an interesting hook and background to your topic. Expert writers do this work around all the time, so, there is no reason why you cannot try the same.

Adding the Main Chapters to a Term Paper

The secret to how to write a good term paper lies in knowing how to do the main chapters. They are the essence, the heart of your research, without them your introduction and conclusion are pointless.

Below, you can see what the main chapters of your term paper can be, learn what they mean, and check out a few relevant examples:ย 

Chapter Description Examples
Abstract A summary of the paper’s main points. Abstract is often optional in a term paper, but mandatory for coursework or thesis.ย  An Abstract may provide a glimpse into the following:

  • paper’s purpose;
  • methodology;
  • findings;
  • and conclusions.ย 
Methodology Description of the research methods and techniques. In this chapter, researchers explain how they conducted their study. A chapter on Methodology may include:

  • details on the study design;
  • description of participants;
  • data collection methods;
  • data analysis techniques.
Results Presentation of the research findings. Unlike the Discussion chapter, this is no place for interpretations; only data, figures, and their brief description. A chapter on Results may include:

  • findings of a qualitative study;
  • tables with results of a quantitative study;
  • graphs and figures;
  • results of statistical analyses;
  • summary of survey results.
Discussion Interpretation of the results and their significance. Discussion is the right place to explain and digest the results for the target audience. In the Discussion chapter, researchers:

  • interpret the results in the context of the research question;
  • review relevant literature;
  • discuss implications;
  • suggest areas for further research.

A thesis statement, results, and discussion will become the โ€œbuilding blocksโ€ for the final part โ€“ the conclusion. Itโ€™s highly advisable to start writing the conclusion once you have a solid draft of the main body, and the introduction ready. The length of the conclusion is normally from two to three paragraphs to a couple of pages. The goal is to restate the initial research problem, showcasing how your work contributes to its solution and the value it brings to the relevant field of science.

Final Remarks

Term paper is a horrendous challenge on every studentโ€™s path to graduation. You should try doing it yourself first, following expert recommendations from the above guide. Asking someone to โ€œhelp write my term paperโ€, or looking for a good term paper example on your topic โ€“ these could be your next constructive steps to take. After all, collaborating with peers or seeking guidance online can offer fresh perspectives, and inspiration, and enhance the quality of your work.


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