Term papers are long, often comprehensive essays that are generally completed at the end of a college level term or class. These essays are designed to show a professor that a student has gained the necessary knowledge from the class, and can fully understand and express the concepts that were taught. Term papers often account for a large part of a final grade, so it is important prepare for the entire process. Term papers can be in many formats, but are often research papers themselves. Topics for a term paper may be open, but will generally be relevant to the previous coursework. Professors will sometimes pick the topic or provide a short list to choose from, so a working knowledge of the class concepts is key.
Preparing for Term Papers
Term papers are usually assigned with ample time to complete them. For papers assigned at the beginning of a course, information should be periodically gathered and applied to the topic of the paper. This provides students with several outlines as the class goes along, making it easier to write the final paper at the end of the term. Some term papers may be given a week out from their due date, though these are usually shorter.
Good preparation is needed for a term paper in order for it to be successful. Several steps need to be completed before the final paper is written. Do all of the necessary research first. Find credible sources, read the text, and gather all of the needed information. Analyze and understand all of the information that has been gathered. Come up with a strong thesis to provide direction. A thesis can always be changed if new information comes up. Make outlines and rough drafts. Even write in sections to keep things organized. Do not start the final paper until things have been fully organized. A good proofreader is also a big help.
Writing the Term Paper
There are a few general rules that most term papers follow. It should not be written in first person, so avoid “I thinks” unless it is specifically stated that the paper wants your personal opinion. Be as concise as possible. Often there is a word or page requirement for a term paper, but that does not mean papers should be written with unnecessary filler (fluff, puff, or stuffing). All of the information in the paper should be relevant to the topic. It is better to have a shorter paper that truly gets its point across, rather than a long drawn out mess. Avoid clichés, unnecessary words, and suppositions that are unsupported. Cite references as needed. Remember, this is a test of knowledge, so the more information, key words, and key concepts that can be explained, the better.