How to Write a Term Paper
In many disciplines, students are required to write research papers during their academic year. For some, this requirement only comes to them with their final thesis – usually the final year project. In the humanities and social sciences, on the other hand, research papers are the norm from the start. Since there are many uncertainties on this topic, we provide you with tips and guidelines on how you can best write your term paper.
What is a term paper?
A term paper is a research paper required at the end of a school semester. It tracks and evaluates students’ knowledge about the course. In other words, it is used to showcase a student’s understanding of course material or a specific topic. When you write a term paper, you prove that you can deal with a problem academically. You provide an academic contribution by placing your topic in the research context within a given period.
It is important to point out that whether you are writing a term paper for a course or are thinking about choosing a topic for a final project, you should choose a topic that really interests you. This is the only way to maintain motivation over the entire processing period. If you want to think further in the direction of your bachelor’s and master’s thesis – and this is possible in the respective subject – you can also choose a topic that already serves as an exercise and preparation for your thesis.
Differences between Term Paper and Research Paper
It is important to point out that many students tend to mix up a research paper and a term paper. However, these two differ in some ways. The first noticeable difference is the time frame. A term is scheduled to be turned in at the end of the semester or a term as the name implies, whereas a research paper might take months or even years to complete. In addition to the above, a term paper is given to the student during the semester, while a research paper is mostly at the beginning of the session.
Another distinguishing feature of these two papers is the purpose of the research. A research paper is designed to look for a practical solution to an existing problem, however, a term paper is to showcase the student’s knowledge about a topic, course, or subject.
Another important difference is the structure. A research paper makes use of a hypothesis to start the work and at the end of the work, it either affirms or rejects the hypothesis with valid evidence. However, a term paper tries to support an existing thesis paper in most cases. It is for this reason; a research paper has a significantly longer length.
Finally, a research paper indeed is more important in academia, however, it doesn’t affect the grade of the student, on the other hand, a term paper affects the grade of the student.
The Basics of Term Paper Format
What are the Parts of a Term Paper?
Like other forms of academic writing, a term paper also has a fixed format. However, it has little variations depending on the course. For example, a Law course will have a different format of writing when compared to an Architecture course. Hence, you should ask your supervisor or the lecturer in charge of the course on the best way to structure the paper.
Below check out the common format of structuring a term paper:
- Content: What to include?
- Title Page: A separate page with paper title, student’s name, the course title, teacher’s name, and submission date.
- Acknowledgment: Include your inspiration for the subject and other relevant introductions.
- Abstract: A brief overview or summary of the paper.
- Literature Review: Mention and briefly discuss previous related research works and studies that helped you in constructing your approach and methodology.
- Methodology: A detailed description explaining your research methods and experimental approaches (if any) step by step.
- Results: Conclude your findings from your research and show measurable results (i.e., figures and mathematical analysis).
- Future Recommendations: Suggest ideas that one can work on in the future.
- Reference List: Enlist all your resource materials in a particular order, i.e., alphabetical.
How to Write a Term Paper?
In this section, we have highlighted effective tips to write a term paper:
1. Research about the topic
Find relevant information that will reinforce the content of your coursework. It can help to write the information you find on index cards, to help you stay organized. Research is a must for writing a term paper. Some students make a mistake by starting to write right away. This is a rookie mistake. Although it seems that there is no progress as not a single word is being written, research would make your writing phase much faster and fluent. Moreover, you could come up with a better approach and idea if you thoroughly research the topic first. Think of it as the investment for writing the paper.
2. Write an outline
An outline is an organized list of points you want to make in your work, in the order, they make sense and should be written down. Getting your thoughts organized beforehand makes writing the actual essay much faster and easier. Don’t skip this step, you will have a lot more work on your term paper due to disorganized information. Use index cards and find similar information. Pair this information together in the same paragraph. Do not write information on the outline. Read your rubric or question to help you figure out how many points it should contain, or how many pages it should be. You can also go back to your instructor.
3. Write the first draft of the essay
This will not be the final product, so you shouldn’t treat it as such. Write what comes to mind first, following the outline, if it doesn’t meet the length requirements. The impact is an intelligent analysis of how or why this claim matters in the context of the essay. The ‘impact’ then becomes the statement in the next paragraph and so on.
4. Write the second draft
Reinforce any paragraphs that don’t provide much information or argument. Additional research can help you with this process.
5. Use transitional phrases
A transition sentence eases the reader from one paragraph to the next. If your outline was written well, these sentences should link the content in one paragraph to another.
6. Edit the draft
After you’ve written the second draft, edit it. Get started in general: spell check, capitalize initial letters, add periods, etc. If you are experienced with grammar, you can start sentence by sentence. Eliminate rhetorical questions, or passive verbs such as was, was, is, etc., and make passive sentences active.
7. Write your final draft
Make sure this is in the correct format (many teachers and teachers require you to use the format, but ask first, assume nothing. Use both spell-check and read about yourself too.