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How to write a term paper

What is a term paper?

A term paper is part of the grading system in colleges and universities and is assigned to students as coursework. Its completion is crucial for a student willing to earn credit points and passing a semester. A term paper can be on any topic, from literature to cinema, from art to science. It can revolve around a cause the students or writers are passionate about or just about a particular science topic that they have been studying that semester.

Purpose of a term paper

Its sole and foremost objective is to discuss in depth the topic at hand and thoroughly examine and understand it. This detailed insight is not just beneficial for passing a course, but excellent practice for any future research papers one might write. It is a hard job because it requires both thorough research and unlimited hours.

How to write a term paper

The best term papers are the ones well thought out, researched, and organized. By organization, it is meant that the writer outlines his or her points throughout the entire paper, from things that he or she wants to discuss and the order one wants them in. His or her writing should not be chaotic or a jumbled up mess. Whatever you choose to write on, keep in mind how it would be perceived as a completed project to someone utterly unaware of it or the circumstances involving it, explaining something from scratch to someone. The best way is to imagine that the audience knows nothing about what is being written. Explain the concepts like one would explain long division to a freshly new 6th-grade class.

Division of a term paper and the first component

A term paper should be divided into a few significant categories (depending on your research division) starting with an Introduction. The introduction serves as an opener for a show and holds importance in terms of the first impression of your whole report. It must very clearly mention the topic and its significance to either you, in case you had the freedom of picking it, or historically if it has been picked out by your professor. The introduction must contain the reason or objective of your research, i.e., what are you trying to prove or gain by the end of it?

The second component of a term paper; the Main body or the Central idea

After the introduction comes the MAIN BODY or the CENTRAL IDEA. This is the core of your midterm paper and the most vital part as it discusses the entire research, claim, or opinion. This is the area where you get to prove and explain all your points. You can either take things to step by step or list out the main points and discuss them in detail in order. One must always start with the most important cause, aspect or reason and work their way through in decreasing order. This is how you prioritize your points. Your sequence alone will tell the reader what is most important to you. A series should be followed, and any claims you make are to be supported by evidence that you may have gathered in your research time. It is vital to quote these side by side your claims or opinions to back them up and make them look more authentic. If you introduce something relatively new, uncommon, or your own, make sure to add an explanation that gives your reader a brief yet perfect idea of it. Do not keep them guessing or confused. Your paper should be detailed but not hard to understand or grasp. Keep your facts straight to the point and your language simple. Don't drag out minor details to not bore the reader.

The third part of the paper; the conclusion

Next comes the conclusion. The conclusion can be the trickiest and most challenging to write part of a term paper and somewhat the most essential. It must be written in such a way that after reading it, the reader should have no confusion or perplexity when it comes to the point you were trying to make. It should bring the reader satisfaction. An abrupt ending of your paper does not leave a good impression and feels incomplete. The conclusion brings all the threads together. Keep in mind that you are not necessarily supposed to bring in any new information or revelations to this part of your paper or add new ideas. Rewrite your thesis if you have to. Here, you use your skills of summarisation and recapping in the shortest way possible and suitable. Summarising compactly without missing out on the essence of your whole paper or devaluing it is the tough part. You cannot drag this but also not write a one-liner that almost makes your entire research seem invaluable.

The importance of a conclusion

Often after reading entire pages of research filled with stories, opinions, facts, references, the reader can get overwhelmed. The conclusion's main job is to tie it all together and present it compactly. Things that you mention in this part are the essential things you pick out and want your readers to keep in mind and remember.

In spite of the differences in lengths of the categories mentioned above, always remember that every part is equally essential while writing a term paper and must be taken into account. They have distinct and different purposes and need to be given equal attention and time. Do not put all of your energy into one specific area because this results in the shift of focus in one area, and some other important things are ignored.

The term paper is a wholehearted effort, and it requires good language skills. You should also make smooth transitions from one point to another, from the introduction to the main body, and then to the conclusion. That can help to avoid any bumps in the road in the train of thought of the reader. You need to present the paper as a fully prepared dish to the reader rather than letting them try out combinations of the ingredients.

Overall tips to bear in mind when writing a term paper

  • Use simple English but stick to the scientific terms that go well with the topic at hand. Again, anything uncommon or complicated should be precisely explained.
  • Smart usage of quotation marks and quotes should be present not to confuse the reader between YOUR opinions and something you have picked up from a book.
  • Writing tools such as metaphors, assertions, and similes should be used to add color and emphasize but not overused to cause confusion or make your writing seem too forced or artificial.
  • If your topic is complex, you have to simplify it, but it is also your right to seek help from professionals such as your teachers, professors to help understand it better yourself.
  • The abstract you create, as mentioned earlier, before starting your paper, should also be well thought out and categorized for your ease.
  • Once you prepare a guideline, it is easy to follow through with it.
  • To add relevance to your topic, make use of news, past researches, social events, newspaper articles as well as authentic blogs from renowned authors.
  • Keep in mind that stronger the writer’s introduction is written, the tighter is the grasp their reader’s attention is held with. It is a tester after the reading of which, immediately, the reader decides whether they are interested in going through the next five pages or not.
  • Before finalization, refine your paper over and over. Go through multiple drafts if you have to.
  • Your overall paper should be divided into paragraphs. This division should be based on subtopics. It is a time-consuming procedure, but this is what an understood paper entails. Patience is key.
  • Before you start your paper, be sure to add a cover page with the topic and your name on it. Or any further details mentioned by your course leader/head.

Referencing and citations

Another crucial part of a term paper, regardless of its position, is referencing. For a term paper, it is necessary that each and every paragraph is appropriately cited and referenced in the referencing section. It is a part of the evidence and adding weight to your side of the argument. A reference can be from a website, another research paper, a book, or an interview as long as it is reliable. But what is crucial is quoting these references.

Why referencing is important

A paper can be well written and can hold a strong argument, but if there is no referencing while writing it, it all goes in vain. Anything that is beside the writer or student's ideas, any inspiration, quotes, data, graphs, researches used need to be credited. In the case of zero credits, the student may be accused of plagiarism or stealing even if that was not his or her intention. Referencing is naming and citing every external source the writer used to back up the points.

How and where to reference or cite data

 It is ideal to do this as the writer goes, with each point, in a bracket to make the work more organized. But if the writer’s sources are just about a handful so just quote them at the end of the paper. In this case, make a separate heading on a separate page. Make use of bullets and make your way through the list of references. Using the bibliography option on the word document automatically lists all the authors quoted or references used and places them neatly one over the other. Referencing is no piece of cake as it requires an understanding of various styles. He or she cannot always quote outdated data for a 21st-century research, primarily if many more experiments have been performed after it. Authenticity is vital to check in any work, be it a magazine article, a book, a research paper, or a journal article. Before citing resources, check the background of the magazines, which included these works, or look into the portfolio of the writer whose work is being used. This will give the student an idea about how legit or authentic work is, just by a little background check. Outdated data never helps a new case. It can be used as an example in a suitable situation; however, it cannot be used to prove in favor of the argument of the topic at hand. Professors and teachers who collect these works very thoroughly check every source used and will be able to detect wrongfully used data, outdated information, etc. All authentic sources come bearing dates and names and can easily be found on the internet; everything just clicks away. It is also necessary to choose information, experiments, or evidence only if it is highly appropriate and goes with the theme of the research. Research before any kind of academic essay or term paper is really important, and that is why a student must go from minor details to major ones. The more the writer researches, the more he or she understands the topic at hand. Reading the works of other renowned researchers helps to give a perspective. Their experience and expertise shines through their works and is always helpful to go through. The writer can explore the library or the internet for all the research on the topic. Agreements, disagreements alike will help. Both sides of the story can be read to understand the broader picture.

Reviewing and Proofreading the Term Paper

Term papers are sometimes lengthy documents, and that is why it is necessary that the document is reviewed correctly. This helps the writer to find the mistakes of his own. While proofreading the document, the term paper is checked for formatting, where the standard formatting issues are addressed. After that, all the grammatical issues are pointed and fixed. In the end, it is checked for all the in-text citations and referencing style. After the proofreading is done, the document is ready. Generally, it is recommended to review and proofread a term paper before submitting the paper to the instructor.

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