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How to Write a Term Paper – The Best Step by Step Guide

how to write a term paper
How to Write a Term Paper

As students, we have to complete countless assignments before we graduate. Many of the assignments, at college, are papers that you have to write including essays, research papers, lab reports, dissertation papers, and more. A term paper is one of those assignments you must complete before you graduate from college. Writing a term paper that can earn high grades requires much more work than spending a few hours on research and writing some words on the paper. Planning, time, and good writing skill are just a few things that you need to write a good term paper. Anyways, if you want to learn how to write a term paper that gets you good grades, follow the guide below.

What is a Term paper?

According to Wikipedia, a term paper is any research-intensive paper that a student writes over the course of his academic term. And it accounts for a huge part of the final grades of the student.

To put it simply, a term paper is a paper that a student must write before graduation. It is usually assigned to the student on his final term at the college or university. And it holds a great value in the final grades of the student.

A term paper is usually several pages long as the length of the paper is not fixed. Besides, the topic of a term paper is usually assigned by the teacher himself. It could be anything from an event description, a case study, or an argument. Moreover, while writing the term paper, the student has to make sure that the content is unique because plagiarism is not allowed.

What is the Difference Between a Term Paper and a Research Paper?

Students often confuse between a term paper and a research paper. Both papers may have a lot of similarities, yet there are differences too between the two. For instance, students have to submit their term papers at the end of the semester. on the other hand, they can take even a year to complete and submit their research papers.

Similarly, the teachers usually ask the students to start working on their research papers at the beginning of the semester. On the other hand, term papers are usually assigned in the mid of the semester. In addition, a research paper aims to find out a solution to a problem while a term paper is used to showcase the knowledge of a student on a particular subject or topic.

Besides, a research paper has a hypothesis that the paper has to either support or reject by the end of the paper. On the other hand, a term paper, in most cases, supports an existing thesis paper. Therefore, a research paper requires more time to complete.

However, a research paper has no impact on the students’ final grades but a term paper does affect the students’ grades.

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Elements of the Term Paper

A term paper, in general, has a set format. But varies from course to course. For instance, a term paper for computer science would be different than a term paper for Physics. Besides, your professor might also want you to add extra details or cut down whatever is not required. Therefore, you should talk to your professor before you start preparing to write a term paper.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that every term paper includes.

  • Content: It is a list of everything that you included in your paper.
  • Title Page: A separate page should be dedicated to the subject or topic, the student’s name, the teacher’s name, the course title, and the submission date.
  • Acknowledgment: Here you have to include your inspiration for the subject
  • Abstract: An abstract is a brief overview of your term paper.
  • Literature Review: In the literature review section, you have to add and discuss relevant terms and studies that helped you to construct your methodology and approach.
  • Methodology: The methodology is a detailed explanation of the research methods and approaches you have used.
  • Results: To conclude the results of your research, add measurable results such as mathematical analysis and figures.
  • Future Recommendations: Here you can add ideas and suggestions that you think can be useful for future work on the subject.
  • Reference List: In the last section of your term paper, you can link back to all the resources you have used.

How to Write a Term Paper

Now that you know what a term paper is and what you should include in your term paper, you are good to start writing a term paper. So, follow the steps below to learn how to write a term paper step by step.

Step 1: Select a Topic for Your Term Paper

The first thing that you should do to start writing your term paper is to decide what you want to write about. In some instances, the teachers or professors themselves assign the topic. However, if you are not assigned any topic, you have to figure it out yourself.

Selecting a topic can be daunting but if you pick your topic beforehand, it will save a lot of time later. Besides, pick a topic that you are passionate about or interested in.

Step 2: Brainstorming and Preparing Ideas

Brainstorming and preparing ideas can help you make sure that you write an outstanding term paper. For instance, when you decide what you want to write about, identity relevant terms and ideas that you need before you start writing your term paper. Unfortunately, many students fail to estimate the importance of this step.

As a result, they end up with poor-quality paper. On the other hand, those students who spend some extra time finding and defining related key terms easily achieve a good quality paper and hence good grades.

Besides, we recommend you take a piece of paper and pen. Then, write anything that crosses your mind even before researching anything. It will help you come up with fresh and unique ideas to help you make your paper stand out from the crowd.

Step 3: Research

A term paper should contain credible information. So, you should do thorough research before writing a term paper. We recommend you gather information from reliable resources such as books, journals, articles, lab reports, official websites, and more.

Also, make sure that all the information, in your term paper, provides adequate and reliable information to support your arguments. Besides, you should only use papers and resources that were published in the last ten years because they contain the latest information.

Nevertheless, whichever source of information you choose, it is a fact that one can not read everything. Therefore, we recommend you do the following things.

  • Find reliable resources
  • Skim
  • Highlight key ideas

So, list down some reliable sources of information. Then, go through the list of topics they contain and quickly read the names of the chapters and headings. Because you do not have to read everything written there. In addition to that, highlight key ideas and important headings while you are skimming through the text.

Step 4: Prepare Outline

Writing a decent paper requires careful thought and organization. So, when you do the research and collect information that you want to add to your term paper, you are good to start making an actionable outline. An outline, for an essay, is used to help writers connect ideas. Similarly, a term paper outline has the topic, main argument, and concepts that you need to cover in your term paper.

With that in mind, if you want to create an actionable outline, follow the steps below.

  • Organize notes, facts, and figures into a group of related ideas.
  • Write a rough thesis statement.
  • Review your thesis statement and identify the main points that support the thesis.
  • Then, find and highlight the ideas that support the main points.
  • Organize all ideas to achieve a unique flow of your ideas.
  • Then, review and find ideas that need more research and work to enhance the quality of your paper.

Step 5: Create an Annotated Bibliography

Now that you know what you want to include in your term paper and created an outline, you are good to start writing an annotated bibliography for your term paper. One should remember that creating an annotated bibliography is most useful while conducting research.

An annotated bibliography, basically, contains all the information that you want to add to your term paper with a short description.

So, make sure that all the information and sources are reliable and relevant to the topic. Besides, one should remember that the requirements of an annotated bibliography vary depending on the topic. And it should help the writer keep track of all the sources of information and develop a literature review.

Step 6: Write Your Paper

Now that you have the outline of your paper ready, you can start writing your term paper. This is the lengthiest part of writing a term paper. So, you have to be patient and just write. Meanwhile, you should keep in mind that it is a rough draft. So, just write and edit later.

Besides, the key to writing a good paper is to have a clear plan, thesis statement, and background information even before you start writing.

A. Write the Abstract

The first part of your paper is the abstract. But we recommend you write the abstract once you have written the rest of the paper. The abstract mainly focuses on what your term paper is about. It includes all the significant findings in your research. So, you have to keep it simple and informative to make sure that even a person who is unfamiliar with the topic can read and understand the abstract easily.

Besides, it should not be more than 200 to 215 words if you have not been assigned any instruction already. Also, a good abstract consists of the followings.

  • Introduction: In the introduction, you state the issue that you are discussing in your paper and why it is important. Also, try to briefly explain the theoretical, practical, and scientific purposes of your research.
  • Body: In the body, highlight the main points of your research and the strategy you have used. Also, illustrate the nature of your findings.
  • Conclusion: Lastly, explain how the results are useful and how you can implement them.

As I mentioned before, write the abstract once you have written the rest of your paper. So, reread your paper and underline the key points and ideas including your research objective, methodology, results, and conclusion. These statements will help you write the abstract in no time.

B. Write the Introduction

The introduction of your term paper decides whether your reader will continue reading your paper or not. So, it has to be strong enough to make your reader stick to the end. Generally, an introduction should have the following elements.

  • Grab reader’s attention: A strong introduction starts with an interesting fact, a short story, a surprising statement, or a statement that illustrates the importance of the subject or topic. Its main purpose is to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Write an overview: In addition to a hook, an introduction has a short summary of the main argument and the goal of the paper.
  • Add your thesis statement: The most important part of an introduction is the thesis statement. It summarizes the paper in a single sentence.

By now you might be wondering whether there are any differences between an abstract and an introduction since both provide a summary.

An abstract is the essence of your term paper. So, it contains the main points of the paper including the result and conclusion. On the other hand, an introduction gives the background of the information in the paper. It also includes the thesis statement and the main argument.

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C. Write the Body

The body is the lengthiest part of any paper. You have to spend enough amount of time adding details and describing supporting ideas. The body of your term paper may contain several paragraphs. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence.

And each paragraph should contain an idea that should be supported further by facts and figures. Moreover, the number of paragraphs depends upon the topic of your term paper.

D. Write the Conclusion

Once you have written the body or the main part of your paper, you are good to start writing the conclusion. The conclusion is the summary of the body of your term paper. Besides, you can also restate the thesis statement, describe the final results, and explain how the results can be implemented further.

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Step 7: Edit and Proofread Your Paper

The last step of our guide on how to write a term paper is to edit and proofread your term paper. In this step, you have to review your paper and look for areas that you need to improve. It can be grammar mistakes and also the content of your paper.

For grammar and spelling, you can use tools such as Grammarly to thoroughly check your paper and make sure that everything is correct. On the other hand, to make sure that each detail is accurate and on point, you have to read your paper a couple of times. It may take you more time to complete the paper but it is indeed worth it.

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