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Term paper writing tips: identifying the goal of your project


Term papers can be overwhelming, especially for new students or those that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with college level writing. In order to make writing your term paper a streamlined experience, be sure to identify the goals of your project clearly before you begin and continue to refine and polish them as you proceed. Here’s how:

  1. Understand the purpose of your assignment.
  2. Don’t think of the assignment simply as a checklist to be filled out. Instead, consider the instructor’s goals in assigning the term paper. For some courses, the term paper will focus mainly on information covered in class. If this is the case, your instructor probably wants you to demonstrate that you’ve been paying attention and have learned, understood, and memorized the actual material that’s already been presented. In other courses, the term paper assignment may require you to move beyond what you’ve learned in class in terms of facts, but to apply the processes and skills you’ve learned to a new project. If you understand your professor’s goals, you’ll have an easier time setting your own goals so that they are consistent with your instructors, and that will mean a better grade in the long run.

  3. With the assignment’s purpose in mind, craft a thesis.
  4. Every essay, research paper, and term paper needs a strong central idea. When choosing what main idea to pursue, think about the purpose you considered in step one. If the purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate knowledge of facts covered in class, you will want to choose a thesis that reflects that. Look through your textbook and the readings you’ve been assigned in the course of your studies to find an idea for your thesis. If the purpose of your assignment is carry the skills you’ve learned in class into examining a new topic, look up related topics and consider how you can apply what you’ve already learned. Create your thesis based on this.

  5. Research according to the purpose of your assignment.
  6. If your assignment revolves around facts learned in class, look up other works by the authors of your assigned readings, or look at the sources those authors used in the pieces you had to read for your class. The closer you stay to the source material (while expanding upon it some) the better. If it’s to apply your skills to a new topic, research with that in mind.