How to Write a Seminar Paper

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The purpose of a seminar is to go into depth on a particular topic. For example, a nursing seminar may focus on particular policies that concern nurse-patient relationships, a philosophy seminar may focus on a particular aspect of Plato's philosophy and an economics seminar may investigate a particular issue in the world economy. Seminar students may be expected to write papers to develop and demonstrate expertise on a certain topic related to the seminar.

  • Select a seminar paper topic and set a time line for paper. The seminar may have a list of topics that the students choose from and a date when the papers are due. Seminar papers are often presented in the seminar by the students. The paper serves as a point of departure that allows the student to lead the seminar discussion.

  • Read the primary and secondary literature concerning the topic. Use the library for the bulk of your research. College and university libraries are stocked with primary and secondary texts, as well as scholarly journals related to the field. The Internet is a useful resource tool as well, as many journals provide articles online. Academic debates and discussions are available online as well. However, Internet research has to be done cautiously to avoid misinformation and unreliable data.

  • Take and organize notes for the paper. Summarize the major arguments and ideas from your reading on note cards or on the computer. Write down quotations verbatim that you may want to include in the paper. Always write down the bibliographical information of the materials you are using, including the author, title, publisher and date of publication.

  • Write out a rough draft or outline of the paper. The research itself generates and clarifies ideas for the paper. Writing a rough draft or outline of the paper helps to formulate the thesis, point of view and arguments of your paper.

  • Read the rough draft of the paper and make critical notes. Determine what the primary purpose or thesis of the paper is and how to present it. The seminar paper may be a commentary or extrapolation of a specific text. The professor may ask for a more critical paper that points out the weaknesses and strengths of a particular policy or perspective.

  • Write the first draft of the seminar paper. Organize the paper into an introduction, main body and conclusion. The main body may be divided into several sections and subsections.

  • Proofread the paper and make any corrections prior to presenting it.

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