Guide: How to Write a Good Term Paper
A term paper is the academic assignment which main goal is to check how students have been studying, and how they managed to comprehend the material. Term papers are usually written once in a year--in the end of a studying year, to be specific. This is an extensive research project, writing which requires solid effort and discipline. Here are some advice that can make your work on a term paper much easier.
- The most basic, and one of the most important recommendations students should observe (and which they often ignore, for some reason) is following the instructions given to them by tutors. Their main purpose is to tell you what exactly is expected from your term paper--in other words, what would suffice for a higher grade. If there are no instruction, or if they are unclear--ask the tutor to clarify them. Otherwise, you might just conduct a whole research without actually doing what was expected from you from the very beginning/
- Remember that you cannot write a term paper on just any topic. First of all, topics are usually pre-assigned by teachers; secondly, if it is not so, choosing a topic on your own is an even more responsible task. Rather often, students face the situation when they choose a topic, but either cannot find enough sources on it, or the topic is too small to match the word limit. There are also situations when students choose a topic, but later cannot understand themselves what to write about, because the topic was formulated unclearly. Keep the focus narrowed. If you have not been assigned with a specific topic and are required to come up with it yourself, choose one that: 1) you know well; 2) is narrow, which means “extremely specific and clear.”
- The golden rule for choosing a research topic is to observe the following three rules: 1) the topic should be neither too popular, nor completely new and unresearched; 2) the topic should be formulated in such a way that it expresses your subject and what you are going to do with it; 3) there should be only one way to understand the topic.
- When choosing your topic, keep in mind that some topics work well for shorter forms of academic writing such as essays.
- After you finish with the topic choice and formulate a preliminary thesis statement (you can modify or change it later, depending on what you find during studying the subject), you should move on to the research phase. This is usually the most lengthy and laborious part of the work, during which you need to:
- find the necessary sources;
- get yourself acquainted with the subject in general; based on this preliminary knowledge, you can adjust and modify your thesis statement;
- conduct the solid, grounded research of the selected sources;
- record, photocopy, or elsewise save the information/materials you find useful. Also, do not forget to carefully record all the information you acquire in the process of an experiment, observation, and so on, as well as the process itself;
- sort out the gathered information: decide on what will serve you as key arguments, what will work well as supporting evidence, and so on.
Do not forget to cite the sources properly from the very beginning, otherwise it will just add you additional bother in the process of writing. Based on the results of your research (and he further analysis) formulate the final, ultimate thesis statement.
Finally, after you have completed your research, you can begin the writing phase.
- Based on the found information, create an approximate outline of your future term paper; this is why you needed to sort out the information during the process of research: it should be organised in such a way that it makes perfect sense altogether. Allocate your key arguments and supporting evidence between sections/paragraphs, link them together. Sketch out the introductory part, including your thesis statement, topic scrutiny, methodology, and so on.
- Revise your outline; this time, write topic sentences, structurize the paragraphs (topic sentence - key argument - supporting evidence - connection to the thesis statement - link to the next paragraph). Also, make the structure of your term paper more sophisticated: each paragraph may contain sub-paragraphs, which, in their turn, can also have sub-paragraphs. Use alphanumeric symbols and Roman digits to structurize information within your paper.
- Write the first draft. This actually means filling your outline with details. Expand on sentences, include detailed explanations and/or descriptions, provide supporting evidence. Start with the introduction, and move to the main body paragraphs. Start with the introduction (subject’s significance - level of scrutiny - background and general context - declaring your actual topic - thesis statement). Before starting to write the first draft, make sure to check with the requirements of your college/university on formatting and paper structure.
- Each subsection of the main body should have its own heading (or, if you are using the system with Roman digits and alphanumeric symbols each section and subsection should be marked respectively). Sections and subsections should be organized in logical order, and each section/subsection should be connected to the previous and the following ones with the help of transitions.
- Write the conclusion, which is basically a brief paraphrase of the claims and arguments you introduced in your paper. Show how your arguments are connected to the thesis statement, how they prove or refute it. Explain why the topic is important for you and your audience. Do a finishing touch adding an afterthought. .
- The second draft is the same as the first one, only proofread and edited. Whatever inconsistencies, mistakes, and other errors you find in your first draft, you should correct. Do not hesitate to rewrite big chunks of text if it is necessary (for example, if you notice that some piece of text does not serve any purpose, or contains weak arguments, or does not support your claim as effectively as you would want it to). After you double-check the paper (at least once, better twice), you can submit it to your teacher.
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