How to Write a Term Paper:

A term paper can be one of the more difficult but rewarding academic assignments you will encounter in college. It’s usually several pages long and requires research that takes up the entire semester, hence the name “term paper”. Writing a great term paper doesn’t always come easy, and there are a lot of common mistakes students make when writing them. Here’s how to write a term paper and avoid those mistakes:

Not choosing a creative topic

More often than not you are given the opportunity to choose your own topic. Be sure to choose something that is both interesting to you and will be interesting to your audience. Make sure that the topic you select isn’t too broad or too narrow. It should be entirely manageable while still answering all the questions you have about a particular area.

Not doing enough research

Having all of a semester to complete your term paper means you don’t have an excuse to not doing enough research. You need to completely understand your topic’s background information. This means learning all of the key terms, key sub-topics, and some of the most important research done in your area. When doing your research make sure to check bibliographies for leads into more reading.

Not refining your thesis statement

After conducting your research you should be able to brainstorm and pinpoint the single strongest idea about your topic. This single idea should be something you can assert your opinion about and defend through the entirety of the term paper. Your thesis statement may change during the course of your writing, but you should be able to draft a statement to serve as the core of at least your outline and first draft.

Not developing an outline

Before you start writing your term paper it’s essential you organize your thoughts in the form of an outline. Your outline will be your guide throughout the writing of your paper, and should include all of your major topic points as well as the evidence you will use in support of your thesis statement. It doesn’t matter how detailed you get. You can have anything between complete sentences to just a few keywords, though most writers will insist that the more detailed you are the easier the process of writing will be.

Not concluding your term paper with strength

There is an excellent strategy many writers employ when writing their conclusions: it is the ROCC system, which is to first Restating the thesis statement, using One important detail found in each of your body paragraphs, Concluding your paper with a nice wrap up, and Clinching your term paper with a final thought to take with them. Be sure you don’t merely summarize your arguments but also synthesize your evidence so your audience understands what you have accomplished.

Not editing your term paper

Space is usually at a premium when writing a term paper. When editing your paper make sure you find words, sentences and even entire paragraphs if they are repetitive or aren’t as strong. You don’t want to bore your audience with extraneous content. Keep your paper concise and clear, get to the points you are making as quickly as possible.

Not properly giving credit

A paper of this length will likely mean you will have several citations. Be careful to give proper credit where proper credit is due. Giving credit isn’t just for direct quotations but also for ideas and data that someone else has come up with. The last thing you want is to be accused of plagiarism. So be sure be extra careful when checking your citations and creating your list of sources.

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