According to Wikipedia, a term paper is defined as “any type of research-intensive paper authored by students over the course of an academic term. This paper typically accounts for a large part of their final course grade.” Simply put, a term paper is a major writing assignment, in an academic setting, that is used to showcase a student’s understanding of course material or a specific topic.
A term paper was originally a written assignment (usually a research-based paper), due at the end of the “term”—either a semester or quarter, depending on which unit of measure a school used. However, nowadays not all term papers will involve academic research.
Most times a research paper is an assignment given by your professor, generally after a semester of work to determine your overall grasp of the course content and help you expand the knowledge base you have built. The topic given to you can come from any area of focus relating to the course material you studied. In some instances, you can be allowed to choose your topic; when this is the case, pick a topic that interests you – or something that you genuinely want to know more about, doing this will increase the chances that you will remain engaged and eager to write a solid paper with lots of substance. Also, make it as creative as possible; when you’re given the opportunity to choose your own topic.
The advantages of writing a term paper can include increasing your level of proficiency in the course and also causing you to delve into the course content on a much deeper level. In this same process, you will also sharpen your research, analytic, and writing skills; skills you will need as you move beyond the university and start your career.
1. Choose your topic
When choosing a topic, it should be one that will fulfill the objectives of your course and will interest you. When doing this, some factors you can consider is how long you want it to be; keeping in mind the time frame you will have to complete the paperwork, how you will get your resources to help support your write-up and how complex or easy to understand it will be. If you feel your topic will become too complex, ask your professors or instructors on how best to go about writing your topic.
2. Do your research
Before starting your writing venture, it will be best to do a background study (research) on what you’re about to delve into and fully understand it so that proper information will be delivered and your message won’t become distorted. Do your research with a sense of adventure and an openness to learning things you are yet to grasp or discover. You could use both primary and secondary sources.
3. Refine your thesis statement
This is the spine of your essay, where you get to defend the idea in the paragraphs that will follow. Thoroughly examine the single, strong idea you’ll be discussing, the idea that you believe you can defend throughout the paper; this will make it a lot more understandable to your reader.
4. Develop an outline for the paper by starting to sketch what your term paper will look like. You can follow in this format
Introduction or purpose of the paper: This opening part is concerned with acquainting the reader with the problem and stating the thesis.
Body: It is usually divided into various headings and sub-headings connected with different aspects of the topic. For example:
Heading 1: History of the Problem. You may have to include past attempts at solutions.
Heading 2: Extent of the Problem. Who is affected? What impact has it had?
Heading 3: Effects of the Problem.
Heading 4: Possible Future Solutions.
Conclusion: This aspect sums up all points made in the term paper and gives a strong answer or a response to your thesis statement.
5. Make your point in the introductory segment
See this as a means of getting started on the right foot. This approach affords you the needed opportunity and freedom to mess things up as needed in order to rectify it as much as you want to later on; ensuring you get the perfect copy. When you’ve used big words in the introduction usually as a question, define the words contained in the question by giving the simplest definitions. Your introduction should be compelling as well as interesting.
6. Convince the reader with your body paragraphs
Now to the main body of your work. Each paragraph should support your argument in a different way that is still completely related to the actual subject of your writing.
7. Finish strong using the ROCC method
The ROCC method is simply;
Restate – your standpoint through your thesis statement.
One – vital and strong important detail should be found in your last paragraph.
Conclude – your tone should be final to wrap things up.
Clincher – this is where you give the reader something to think about.
8. Select a citation style and make sure to proofread your work before the final submission
Before you decide on what citation style to use, consulting with your professor or instructor is a great idea so that you’ll know their preferences; be it MLA, APA, Harvard, or other citation styles. Each has a precise notation system, so if you’re unsure of the rules, check the manual or perform a Google search.
If your aim is to get a really good balanced grade for your term paper, it is of utmost importance for you to prepare yourself for writing a college term paper right from the beginning of the semester — you shouldn’t wait until you are assigned or asked to choose a topic before you start preparing. You should start by always attending classes, paying attention during lectures, and taking good notes during class. These are just a few of the tips you could use that’ll help you in your preparations to write a great term paper.