How To Write A Term Paper In 6 Steps

Mike Russel

Writing a term paper is not rocket science. You can complete this task in a week or even in few days. But will your paper be good enough to earn you A+? Will it help you gain the loyalty of your professor and demonstrate the successful completion of a course? I doubt. A good term paper requires in-depth research and a consistent approach. And this is the bare minimum. To make your assignment perfect and professional, you need to dig deeper, observing some research paper examples, tips and guidelines. Finding and looking into some appropriate literature and making an outline is also an integral part of your journey towards an effective term paper.

What is a good term paper? – It is the question you should address before getting started with your assignment. A solid term paper is always consistent, comprehensive, and effective. Ezra Pound, an American poet, and critic, once told, – “Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.” Maybe, you are not a genius writer, but as a college student, you need to learn how to keep your language efficient. So, today, we will look into how to write a term paper that will help you to get A.

What Is A Term Paper: Delving Into The Definition

The definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the term paper is:

“a major written assignment in a school or college course representative of a student’s achievement during a term.”

So, when we say “a term paper” we usually mean a research paper submitted at the end of a semester. Why do you need to write this kind of assignment? First of all, it demonstrates your study progress during a course. Secondly, it allows instructors to evaluate your overall expertise, analytical, and writing skills as well as your ability to follow the structure. Plus, the term paper is always based on thorough and rigorous research. Thus, you should pull out all the stops to come up to scratch.

A college term paper format may vary depending on the subject, any specific course requirements, the purpose of your paper, etc. However, it typically includes the following elements:

  • Title Page; 
  • The topic definition and description; 
  • Rationale (explanation and reasoning behind the preferred topic);
  • Other introductory details;
  • Table of Contents;
  • Abstract (a concise overview of the research);
  • Literature review (an insight into the previous research related to the topic);
  • Methodology overview (how the research is performed and what it is based on);
  • The results section (conclusions on whether your hypotheses were confirmed or rejected);
  • Recommendations (any insights and guidelines for the future study and investigations on the topic);
  • Reference list and Bibliography page.

The design of each research is individual. And the way you organize it is up to you. The point is that your paper should demonstrate your strengths, analytical, and research skills. Plus, your term paper should refer to the previous works and generate new knowledge, providing scientific value.

How To Write A Term Paper In 6 Steps

As you see, the term paper is like a typical research paper, so its structure falls into three basic parts – Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Each of them includes some essential elements. Let’s look into them in more detail.

  1. Step 1: Do research on the topic

    Researching is your ultimate recipe for success. It is an axiom that you cannot produce a brilliant paper without research on it. Many students suffer from writing paper procrastination or feel anxious because they do not have an idea of how to start their assignments. It seems overwhelming and unmanageable. But take a deep breath and just start from research. As soon as you know what to write about, it is easier to master the task. 

    While writing a term paper, it is essential to delve into the topic by observing relevant materials from authoritative sources such as professional journals, books, scientific studies, research articles, etc. You can find them in the university library, online libraries, on the websites of research institutions, Google Scholar, etc. The sooner you start researching your topic, the smoother workflow you can expect.

  2. Step 2: Start with the outline

    Term paper outline is the groundwork of your assignment. In fact, you never know when the outline will occur to you. But it is nearly senseless to write a paper without a draft. The previous step is meant to help you understand what you should write and how it should look like. So, it is a great practice to write an outline while doing research on a topic. However, even if your muse does not want to come when you need it most, you can check some term paper outline templates such as this one. 

    Anyway, the easiest way to produce a good outline is brainstorming. Do not focus on writing the right outline from the first try. After finishing your research, pay attention to the structure recommended by your instructor and note down all insights and ideas that occur to you. When the topical flight is over, just select those that suit you the most.

  3. Step 3: Write the eye-catching introduction

    The first writing step is actually the hardest. To overcome this barrier, do not try to make your introduction perfect. Of course, it should be eye-catching and informative, so there is no need to underestimate its importance. But in fact, the introduction (like any other part of your assignment) can be redesigned and rethought. Many students prefer to put it off till the body is finished. However, reflecting on the key pillars of your term paper introduction will not hurt. It will give you a reference point, so when your assignment is completed you will just need to refine it.

    In the introduction, you should present the fundamentals of your paper or those aspects your reader needs to know before looking into the body. The best technique for writing a term paper introduction is HIT. It refers to the following:

    Hook: start with a quote or question to catch (hook) your reader’s attention;
    Introduction into the topic: present the core aspects, be concise;
    Thesis statement: introduce the main idea of your paper in one sentence.

  4. Step 4: Keep the structure clear

    The body of your term paper should be well-structured to correspond to the objectives and the subject of your research. It usually includes the literature review, methodology, and explanation of the results. Each next part should support the previous one, i.e. the text should be consistent. 

    Paragraph after paragraph, you need to elaborate on your theme by discussing the previous studies, covering the way you have investigated the topic and collected the data. Note that the results chapter should sum up the key findings and contain their interpretations. Anyway, every term paper is individual, so do not hesitate to ask for advice.

  5. Step 5: Finish with the powerful conclusion

    In the concluding part, you need to provide the summary of your results rather than their interpretation and suggest recommendations for future investigations. The term paper conclusion should not give additional interpretations or new information. Do not take this part as the blind side of your assignment. So, try to keep it clear and finish with strength. 

    The best way of doing this is the ROCC method: 

    Restate the thesis statement of your term paper;
    “One important detail” should be included in the last paragraph;
    Conclude – sum up the key findings;
    Clincher – give a reader some insights to reflect on.

  6. Step 6: Revise the paper

    The worst mistake you can make while writing a term paper is giving up on editing and proofreading. There are several levels of proofreading. Thus, you need to check spelling, grammar, punctuation, stylistic, and logical mistakes. It can be difficult to identify all of them at once. So, get ready to look through your assignment several times. 

    Plus, an unbiased view can help you to refine your term paper. Do not hesitate to ask a friend or peer for assistance. The other alternative is editing and proofreading services. And you can also use this cheat sheet for more effective revision:

In Wrapping Up

Writing a term paper is different from writing an essay. You can produce a decent essay in a day or in a couple of days. But working on a term paper is not a one-day task. You need to concentrate on it to demonstrate the range of skills which you cannot get an A+ without. So, take your time and do not forget to have breaks. There is no assignment worth wearing yourself out.

On the other hand, writing paper procrastination often results from large assignments (especially at the end of the semester). Thus, keep in mind that everything starts with research. As soon as you have completed it, the first step towards your term paper is done. So, the hardest part of your journey is over.

Mike Russel

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