Writing an A+ term paper takes much more than a couple of hours spent on research and several lines on a paper. Before we dive deep into the term paper format, let’s first define what it is and look into the objectives of this writing assignment.
What Is a Term Paper
A term paper is a research paper required at the end of a school semester. It tracks and evaluates students’ knowledge about the course. Usually a scientific report or a discussion of an assigned topic, a term paper requires a lot of research and technical writing expertise. This academic writing assignment must be well-written, analytical, organized, and well-researched—as this reflects your knowledge of a certain course.
Watch our video guide to get more information about this type of research paper then get back to reading. Our next step for writing a term paper is choosing a topic.
Term Paper Topics
Instructors usually provide topics related to your course. However, sometimes you are free to choose your own topic. Try surfing the web, reading articles, news, magazines, and blogs to get ideas for your term paper. Make sure that the chosen topic will fulfill the objectives of your course and will interest you. If a certain topic interests you, researching and writing about it will be easier and more fun.
The following should be considered when choosing a topic:
- Length: Consider the length of the required assignment. Will it be 10 pages long or 5 pages short? How many words are required? Considering the length will help you choose a certain topic because you will be able to decide how broad or narrow your subject will be.
- Resources: Check out your school or community library for any available resources. You can also look for any available online resources. Make sure you have hands-on books and other materials to reference for your paper.
- Complexity: Make sure that you will be able to explain your topic—no matter how complex it may be. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask experts. Have your professor explain certain areas in your topic that you don’t feel you’ve fully grasped.
- Take a look at our best essay topics & ideas
How to Start a Term Paper
Before starting, make sure to follow the instructions that were given to you. Clarifications should be made with your instructor before doing any research or writing work. Don’t wait until the last minute before you start writing a research paper. If you want quality work and a high-grade, plan ahead and make time every day for writing your assignment. Allot time for proofreading your work before handing it in to your professor.
A good way to start is by creating a compelling and creative title. Your title page is the first impression of your work, so make sure that it will capture your reader’s attention.
Term Paper Outline
The outline should be produced before and while researching and writing a term paper because it will serve as the basis around which you will build your work. There are a lot of templates to choose from, but most of the time your instructor will require you to follow a certain essay format. The main parts should include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
The structure should be organized and well-researched. Technical writing skills should be crucial in organizing your ideas. The following is a general term paper format or layout that you should follow in presenting your argument or topic:
- Cover page: Align the text that contains your name, course number, your teacher’s name, and the date of the deadline in the center of the page.
- Abstract: Usually less than a page long, the abstract describes your work. It lets readers know where the term paper is headed, the issue at hand, and why the subject was interesting or important enough that you decided to write about it.
- Introduction: The introduction should begin with a statement of the topic to be discussed. Explain the significance of the topic or problem at hand and write about how you plan to discuss or resolve the issue.
- Body: The body of your text should contain the main points from your research. Provide information about the topic so that the reader can further understand what is being discussed. Don’t forget certain positions pertaining to the issue and the analysis of the research you have done.
- Results: Explain why your research has led you to believe certain things about your subject. How has your view changed from when you began the project? Has it stayed the same, and why? Tie everything you’ve been explaining into what you had stated in your introduction.
- Discussion: End with a summary and a conclusion about the topic in question. Finish by stating an opening question or by prompting the reader to continue his or her own research on the subject through a discussion.
How to Write a Term Paper Proposal
Before researching and writing, you should know what a term paper proposal is. Basically, you should be able to defend your topic to your instructor through this proposal. This proposal must be handed in and approved of before writing the actual term paper.
Include recent studies or research on your topic. Don’t forget to insert proper referencing. State the relevance of your topic to your course effectively by submitting a short article with a clear explanation. Provide your objectives and organize the flow of your ideas.
If your professor didn’t provide a proposal template or sample, you can follow this format:
- Title: This is the draft title of what you want to research. Make it clear and comprehensible.
- Objectives: This part should define your outcomes after your research.
- Relevance and Importance: Include recent news, social events, articles, and blogs that convey the importance of the topic. Your topic should be up to date and capture the attention of the reader.
There are many examples of term paper proposals available online, including formats and templates. You can follow these formats, but make sure that you maintain your proposal’s organization and do not forget to highlight your main points and objectives.
Term Paper Format
For the format, first consider the length and the citation style you will use. When you have researched a certain topic, you are required to use a specific citation style. If you neglect to reference properly, you might be accused of plagiarism. Also, a term paper is an academic writing assignment, therefore APA or MLA citation styles are commonly used.
- Use APA (American Psychological Association) term paper format for social sciences. To reference a book in an APA style term paper, the author’s name, the book’s title, the year of publication, the publisher, and its location are needed. So make sure to not forget to include this information during your research.
- The MLA (Modern Language Association) format is most commonly used in liberal arts and humanities. The publication name, date, and location are needed in this format as well.
Term Paper Example
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The timeline of events from 1776 to 1861, that, in the end, prompted the American Civil War, describes and relates to a number of subjects modern historians acknowledge as the origins and causes of the Civil War. In fact, pre-Civil War events had both long-term and short-term influences on the War—such as the election of Abraham Lincoln as the American president in 1860 that led to the Fall of Fort Sumter in April of the same year. In that period, contentions that surrounded states’ rights progressively exploded in Congress—since they were the initial events that formed after independence. Congress focused on resolving significant issues that affected the states, which led to further issues. In that order, the US’s history from 1776 to 1861 provides a rich history, as politicians brought forth dissimilarities, dissections, and tensions between the Southern US & the people of slave states, and the Northern states that were loyal to the Union. The events that unfolded from the period of 1776 to 1861 involved a series of issues because they promoted the great sectional crisis that led to political divisions and the build-up to the Civil War that made the North and the South seem like distinctive and timeless regions that predated the crisis itself.