What is a Term Paper?

What is a Term Paper?

When asked to write your first term paper, you might pose and ask, what is a term paper? A term paper can be defined as a lengthy essay written by a student on a subject that is drawn from the work that is usually done during a college or school term. Usually, a term paper refers to an academic paper that students are required to complete at the end of a school year or semester. This period is also called a school term. Writing this paper entails conducting research although this is not the case in some colleges. Generally, a term paper should showcase what you have learned throughout the semester or term. Its focus should be on a specific study subject that you covered during the term or academic year.

What is a term paper and how does it differ from other academic papers?

A term paper is usually an academic paper that can be published. This paper is different from other papers because it is written towards the end of an academic term and it should have an objective which is basically to show what you learned throughout the term or semester. Just like other academic papers, the objective of a term paper is to increase knowledge and comprehension of the writer and the reader of a specific phenomenon.

A term paper can be written on anything as long as it will help in increasing knowledge and comprehension of a literary phenomenon which can even be a text. In a text, the chosen topic should help in understanding specific elements in the text, the reading process, theory, empirical reception, the understanding act and reading or writing sociology among others.

A term paper should have a specific idea at its core and analysis

A term paper should have your idea at its core. Perhaps, this is what makes a term paper different from other academic papers of a similar length. In most cases, the idea is what you noticed throughout the reading or academic term and why it deserves specific attention because of its contribution towards the overall meaning as well as the comprehension of the phenomenon. For instance, if the topic of a term paper is on a text that you read, the topic might deserve specific attention for its contribution to your understanding as well as how its meaning favors a specific interpretation. This should be an interesting interpretation and it should extend beyond the surface.

Additionally, you should include an analysis in your term paper. Your analysis should show how the aspect that you have chosen to discuss as your topic is relevant. Additionally, it should show the arguments of different interpretations of the phenomenon or topic. Generally, when writing a term paper you should focus on a subject that you studied or covered during the academic term or year.

Length of a term paper

If you came across this article wondering what is a term paper you might now be wondering about the length of a term paper because its definition says that it is a lengthy essay.  A term paper should have at least a few pages. The length of this paper, also called a research paper in some cases, depends on the chosen subject or topic and the grade or academic level of the writer. Usually, it should be typed and double-spaced.

While giving students this assignment, different teachers or lecturers may specify their requirements. However, there are cases when a lecturer or a teacher might require you to use a specific writing style while writing this paper. This can be the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Modern Language Association (MLA).

What you should know apart from knowing what is a term paper

While writing a term paper, you need to present a specific argument in a clearly written thesis statement. This thesis should be supported by well-presented research. Note that you do not necessarily have to argue a point while writing a term paper. However, you might be required to write a purely information term paper. Your teacher or lecturer can also ask you to focus on a significant historical event, important scientific or political figure as well as arts. Your teacher or lecturer can assign you a specific topic or subject on which to write a term paper or leave you to choose your own topic but within specified parameters.

There are cases where a term paper is a form of personal reflection. This is very common in the early school grades. You might be asked to write a term paper in which you detail what you learned during the term in your favorite class or subject. This kind of a term paper requires you to reflect on the academic term while reviewing the topic or subjects as you develop your writing skills. Note that, a major requirement for a term paper is that it has to be your own writing and work. This implies that you should not plagiarize the work of another person, copy or download a term paper online and submit as your own. If your professor or teacher realizes that you have plagiarized other people’s work, you will get no credit and you might be punished or face expulsion from college. Therefore, avoid presenting a copied or downloaded term paper as your own.

Your obligation while writing a term paper

You are obliged to do certain things while writing a term paper.

They include:

  • Researching and investigating: You are required to seek hard-to-find and obscure materials and use a clear presentation to unify them.
  • Analyze: Provide a critical analysis in which you examine arguments for validity, logic, evidence and flaws.
  • Clarify: You should make your arguments and evidence clear to your reader. Elucidate any difficult material.
  • Synthesize: Draw different things together to show their relations and patterns.
  • Organize: Provide a logical structure and continuity to different materials.
  • Examine broader context: You should show readers how the subject applies to or fits in the broader context while relating it to other fields or historical precedents.
  • Distill: You should eliminate fluff as well as irrelevancies to bring out the main issues in your subject or topic.
  • Adapt a specific viewpoint: Show how the presented evidence as well as reason favors the side that you take on the controversial issue.

Once you have written the term paper, you are required to proofread it carefully to ensure that it is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Also check your paper for content and form. Apparently, knowing what is a term paper is not enough if you cannot write a quality term paper because that is what the instructor expects from you.

To write a quality paper, know what is a term paper and practice writing it

Everybody has a unique writing style and tone. This is what will make your term paper unique. While writing a term paper, maintain unique, direct, simple and active expressions. Avoid colloquialisms because these will hinder you from making clear points and this will ruin the quality of your paper. Also avoid emotion-laden phrases and words. Aim at making your point simple and clear to the reader. Remember that your instructor should not struggle to read or understand your term paper.

While practicing to write a term paper, ensure that:

  • Your term paper has a title that conveys the main subject creatively and clearly. You can include subheadings in the paper to enhance its organization.
  • Your term paper has an introduction that guides your reader on what you will be doing in the paper.
  • You have a thesis statement in the introduction through which you state the controlling idea of the paper.
  • The body of your term paper presents evidence that supports the presented thesis statement as presented in the introduction.
  • Your paper has a summarizing, thoughtful and insightful conclusion that shows how the introduction was illustrated by the body. The conclusion should also discuss the acquired insights.
  • Include the cited work or reference in the paper.

After writing the paper, make sure that it reads well. It is only by practicing regularly that you will know how to write a good term paper. While practicing, use good term paper examples as your writing guide. You can easily find sample term papers online but you should use professionally written term papers only. Remember that you should not copy the samples but use them as your guide. For instance, you can find and use a good term paper sample here.

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