You might go through college receiving only C's and still get the diploma, but it's that A+ that gives you a real sense of fulfillment. If you want to take your academic writing on a new level and you're in dire need of some handy tips for writing a college term paper, we've got your back covered. The following 10 term paper writing tips will go through the whole writing process and focus on the most important things you need to know about each stage.
1. Pick up the Topic
If you want to know how to write a good term paper, try to make it creative from the very beginning. This means that your topic has to be interesting and unusual. If you have the freedom of picking it up by yourself, you should definitely make this situation work for you. The best choice you can make is the topic you're personally interested in and already have some experience with. This will make term paper writing easier because you'll have enough motivation and basic knowledge to begin with.
If the topic was already assigned to you, you can still make it more personalized. Usually, professors come up with rather wide assignments that you can narrow down and focus on more specific angles of the subject. The main thing you will want to achieve here is to try to set your topic away from the obvious viewpoints that other students will follow. By doing so, you'll be able to create something unique even based on a generic assignment.
At the same time, you shouldn't get too focused on the topic you have initially chosen. Many students make a mistake of picking up a subject and then doing everything to make their paper fit the topic. In reality, it's possible that after you research a broad topic, you'll find out that there is a better angle to approach it instead of the one you first thought of. When this happens, just alter your topic to reduce the workload and make the process more enjoyable.
2. Research Your Topic
What is a term paper? The definition is simpler than you might think - it's just a summary of topic research. So before you start writing, you need to gather enough information. In case you're working with a topic you already have some knowledge in, you might feel a temptation to skip the research stage and base the paper on what you already know. However, that's not something you should be doing because then you miss the point of a term paper - to learn something new.
Research is also an exciting thing to do because through it you can discover completely new sides of an old problem. So don't be intimidated by this preparatory step, rather see it as an adventure. The ground you can cover will depend only on your amount of available time and motivation. Nevertheless, try to apply primary, as well as secondary sources, which are analyses and interpretations of the primary ones.
3. Polish the Thesis Statement
Once it comes to the moment when you need to write a college term paper, most people decide to begin with the thesis statement. It's a justified decision since that's the most essential part of the paper. In a nutshell, a thesis statement is the strongest idea that you'll try to defend throughout the whole paper by providing arguments, examples, statistics, etc. The thesis needs to be intriguing for the readers so that they would want to continue reading and find out more.
One thing you need to remember is that this point is not the end of the research. Moreover, at this stage your thesis statement should also be flexible. As we've already mentioned in the first part about the topic, it's always possible that you'll discover better approaches later in the writing process. If this happens, don't hesitate to adapt the thesis and take your research in a slightly different direction. On the contrary, don't wonder for too long being afraid to commit to only one idea. The deadlines will not be cancelled, and the faster you decide, the more time you'll have for writing.
4. Write the Outline
This step is not compulsory, and many people decide to skip it. But if you're a less experienced writer are ready to commit to the process completely, writing the outline can be very helpful. Doing this before starting with the paper itself will give you a chance to develop the skeleton of the paper and will set a clear direction to follow. As always, the outline is also allowed to be flexible and open to changes but at the same time, it should give you a feeling of structure which is difficult to achieve without the outline.
Writing the introduction is not easy so you might risk losing your motivation at the very beginning. But don't get discouraged, introduction consists of only a few sentences, and the main one of them you've already written as the thesis statement. Don't be too critical of your first introduction draft because you can always come back to it and change something. One technique we find useful is following the HIT scheme:
H - use a hook to attract the reader. It can be an anecdote, a quote, a fact, etc.
I - introduce the topic very shortly and clearly, ideally with one sentence.
T - finish the introduction with the thesis statement.
Finally, if you used some complex words in the title, the introduction is the best place to define them.
6. Body Paragraphs
The number of body paragraphs will be decided by the number of arguments you want to present. You have to make a clear distinction between each idea and dedicate separate paragraphs to them. Every body paragraph should start with its own thesis sentence that reflects a part of the main one. Usually, this sentence is short and clear, it only states the idea that will be discussed without yet getting into the discussion. To check if you did this right, read the first sentence of each body paragraph. If they sound like a list of arguments, the job is done.
It's always a bit confusing to decide what exactly you should write in the conclusion. One technique you can use is ROCI.
R - restate the thesis using different words.
O - highlight one important detail you'd like the reader to remember.
C - conclude the paper.
I - leave the reader with a lasting impression.
Now that the writing part of the paper is over, it's high time you made it look presentative and readable. This means checking whether you've cited all sources, meeting the requirements of a specific academic style (MLA, APA, Chicago), sorting out the bibliography, checking tables, and so on. Including quotes is obviously necessary, but try not to rely on them too heavily. Your own thoughts are what ultimately builds the paper so borrowing most information from elsewhere won't get you far.
You might think that running your paper through a spelling checker is enough, but it never is. In fact, it's only one of many steps of proofreading. Check your grammar, double words, spelling, and punctuation. Once you think you're done, go over the text again and you'll notice that you still haven't picked up everything. One or two inaccuracies might be forgiven, but if your paper is riddled with mistakes, it will really show that you didn't even make an effort. That's the impression that will never help you get an A+.
Some prefer to start everything with writing the title while others leave it for the very end. There is no right approach, but if you're still stuck with composing this one essential part of a term paper, try to brainstorm it with other people. It's possible that a fresh mind will come up with a solution a lot faster. The main rule that you need to meet when it comes to a title is that it has to be interesting and intriguing. Very often, the title is the only thing that decides whether the reader will start reading the paper or not.
If you follow these ten steps, writing a term paper will be of no difficulty for you. Just remember to start in advance and plan your work well.