Term papers can be intimidating, and they are a lot of work. Too often students work inefficiently because they do not have a specific plan for writing and researching their papers. By following this simple plan, I cut my work time significantly and still wrote high quality term papers. As you will see in this article, the keys to writing excellent term papers are deciding on a topic that is easy to research, organizing your information methodically, and creating your bibliography early in the process.
Things You'll Need
- A decisive attitude
- An open mind
- A method of organizing your notes and bibliography
The most important step to writing a term paper quickly is choosing a good topic. To find the a good term paper topic, FIRST see what information is available at your school library. Scan research journals to identify research trends. Look for research questions that are being written about a lot. Do not look for the perfect term paper topic. Do not look for the most original topic. Look for the topic that is written about the most, and written about by credible researches who are published in widely accepted scholarly journals. The key here is find your sources FIRST, THEN choose your topic.
To quickly write a good term paper, don't order articles from Interlibrary loan, or article reproduction services. It's not worth it. Save your energy and money. Unless you are a graduate student, your professor is not looking for original term papers. Your professor is looking to see if you can organize your ideas, cite your sources, and support your conclusions in your term paper. Even if you ARE a graduate student, you don't need to write original term papers for most classes. Save the original, obscure research for your thesis or dissertation. Remember, the rest of the papers are just term papers. Don't agonize over term papers. Just get them done.
When researching for your term paper, skim your research articles and books. Take detailed notes. You might want to photocopy portions that you plan to quote, cut out the passages, and staple or glue then to index cards. This is a huge time saver.
Whether you use bibliography cards and topic cards to organize the research that you find, or whether you use the computer- it doesn't matter. Just be sure to be systematic. Being systematic is everything when it comes to term papers.
Your research and writing for your term paper mean nothing if the bibliography is sloppy or does not contain enough of each type of required source. Type up a bibliography entry right away for each source that you plan to use. Count and recount your sources. Make sure that you have used enough sources. You don't want to find out at midnight the night before the paper is due that you are one journal article short! Remember, a well-crafted bibliography that conforms to your department's style requirements will impress a professor more than your eloquence.
Outline your term paper! This is a must. Don't sit down with a pile of ideas and just start writing. Outlining will save you a tremendous amount of time. Your basic outline should include your thesis statement, your topic sentences for each paragraph, and your conclusion.
Type up a bibliography page for your term paper right away. Don't leave that for the last minute. You can cut and paste entries and move them around if you find that you omit some sources from your final draft. Get a friend to proof your bibliography. Many A+ papers lose a letter grade by the time the bibliography is graded. Be very careful about this. Make SURE that the bibliography conforms to the style manual required by your teacher. Make sure that the indentations are correct, that the spacing before and after punctuation marks is correct, and that you follow the bibliography instructions perfectly.
If you pick a topic based on research already available, take notes, and plan your paper carefully, you should find that writing the term paper is not too difficult.
Tips & Warnings
- Remember do not be perfectionistic when choosing your topic. Just pick a topic that has a lot of available sources. When you read your sources, think about how they relate to what your professor has been teaching in your class. If you can relate your research to the theories and models you are studying you will get a very high grade and win your professor's respect. That will pay off when you need job or graduate school letters of recommendation.
- Eat healthy foods and take exercise breaks often when researching and writing. You will think more clearly and it will show in the quality of your work.
- Be careful to avoid plagiarism.
- Don't buy a term paper. That's foolish, unethical, and immoral. Succeed the old fashioned way. If you do not put forward the effort to merit your grades, you will be haunted by self-doubt once you enter your chosen field. Don't sell yourself short!