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Term Paper Template


  1. Class: Unspecified
  2. This template is published for use.
  1. Step 1: Preparation
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • Sometimes the topic is already preassigned by teachers, but if not, try to choose one that is of significant interest to you.

      • If you have the freedom to choose a topic within a specific field, choose one that you are familiar with.
      • If you are assigned a topic by your instructor, clarify exactly what writing a term paper on this topic means and how to go about it.
    • Since you have studied this topic during your time at school already, this time is used to clarify and refresh your mind about the topic.

      • Make sure, through preliminary research, that you want to write a term paper on this topic.
      • Talk to your instructor if you feel you have chosen a topic that does not suit you. Sometimes after preliminary research, a student can feel overwhelmed.
    • It should be a firm statement of certainty about your topic, preferably something that is debatable. In term papers, thesis statements should be detailed and specific.

      • Write out many variations of your thesis statement on a piece of paper. Write around 10 variations of your thesis statement. Choose one which matches your convictions the most about your topic.
      • This will be only a working thesis statement, though. After you have done proper research, you will be able to refine this thesis statement.
  2. Step 2: Do the Research
    Percent time spent on this step: 50%


    • The best start for your research is to explore the links within general information websites about your present topic.

      • Read through or scan the articles attached to the general source websites, taking notes.
      • When taking notes or citing quotations, be organized. Write down the citations in their full referencing format.
    • Find the sources that discuss particular aspects of your topic in detail. Try to get a comprehensive view of your topic, researching both sides of the issue/problem/phenomena.

      • Review all your class notes and instructor handouts.
      • Take proper notes on sources, again citing quotations you find useful in their proper format.
      • Use only scholarly sources for this type of research. If you are in doubt about the quality of the source, make sure it is from an educational institution or a research company.
    • Are there any holes in your research? If there are, now is the time to seek out answers to questions about your topic that you have not answered.

      • Write down what you have not figured out about your topic yet in order to present your research.
      • Visit multiple sources of information to get at the truth of your subject. Visit libraries, online databases, and professionals in the field of your research.
      • Do not forget to check over your notes and classroom handouts to see if you have missed any crucial information.
    • If you wrote your research citations and notes on cards, put them into one box or folder in alphabetical order. If you have logged your research in an electronic file, make sure that all of it is in order.

      • Check if all your sources are properly referenced.
      • Mark which sources are the most important and pertinent for your research paper.
      • Once again, if you feel something is missing in your research, seek out the answers to your questions before moving onto outlining your future paper.
  3. Step 3: Outlining
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • In viewing all your research notes and citations, determine what is the direction of your paper in the context of the research. Check the criteria your instructor has laid out for the structure of the paper.

      • Revisit your working thesis statement and change it according to the research you have completed.
      • Based on your changed thesis statement, write a paragraph on what exactly you want to focus on in your paper and how you will present it. You can cover various topics within the research, but be sure these topics connect with each other, and are not random topics within a general theme.
    • Write 2-3 sentences about the subjects within the information you are going to present. Research is used to prove a point and to explain something. Sketch out what you want prove or explain, point by point.

      • Have at least three points to convey, writing brief information about them.
      • Make sure that the points connect to each other and that you could see the future flow of your paper through these chosen topics.
      • Consult your notes throughout the process.
    • Now that you have a firm idea of what to focus on in your research and how to present it, write down the sections in succinct form.

      • Consult your notes throughout the process of writing.
      • Put your working thesis statement at the top.
      • With each section, write 3-4 points that you want to discuss.
      • Be sure to be organized, listing the introduction, body paragraphs (with respective headings) and the conclusion.
      • Edit your outline at least once, rearranging any points to make the information flow better.
  4. Step 4: Write the First Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 15%


    • Make sure to include a topic sentence and your thesis sentence. Build up to your main points, making sure the readers can follow your logic and wording.

      • Provide background information in the middle of your introduction to give a prelude to the thesis statement. Usually, term papers require more background information than regular papers.
      • Make sure that the introduction contains all the points you want to mention in the body paragraphs. You do not want to surprise your readers with seemingly irrelevant information.
    • This is the bulk of your work. Remember that each paragraph should be important, useful, and relevant. Each paragraph should contain a case for your argument or present a point in your explanation of your research.

      • Have a topic sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph.
      • After every citation you use, have at least one sentence explaining it in your own words and its importance to your argument. This is especially important within term papers, as citations often can be difficult to understand.
    • Make the end count. Do not simply summarise--inspire your readers to examine the topic further. You should make sure that your readers understand the significance of your research and what it means in a grander context. Remember, your instructor wants to be certain you understand what has been taught to you.

    • Since this is a first draft, there is going to many mistakes to correct. But do not get hung up on making it perfect, as you still have two drafts (or more) to go.

  5. Step 5: Work on the Second Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Reorganize any parts of the paper that you think blocks the flow of communication and understanding for readers.

      • Usually, parts with a lack of flow need transitions.
      • Sometimes it is simply switching around the order of paragraphs and sentences that can make a paper more smooth sounding.
      • Make sure that your instructor can glean from your writing that you understood the material you researched.
    • Seek an economy of words and elaborate on parts of the paper that seem lacking in detail.

      • Question each word you use. If it does not need to be there, then delete it.
      • If you feel a part is lacking in substance or should be carried further, add a sentence or two to give your readers a better look into a certain detail.
    • Make the thesis statement match the content of your body paragraphs and conclusion.

      • Read each topic sentence of each body paragraph and see if it matches with the thesis statement. If it does not, then either your thesis statement or topic sentences need to be adjusted.
      • Read your conclusion. Does it match with your thesis statement? If not, then either your thesis statement or conclusion should be revised.
    • Since this is the second draft, there will be less mistakes to correct. But still, be on your guard.

  6. Step 6: Work on the Final Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Rearrange the format of your paper if any sections of your paper seem to not flow. Proper transitions between paragraphs should be used. Pay attention that they explicitly connect previous points and carry your argument and/or explanation forward.

    • Take out any unnecessary words, add details if necessary, and see if it matches the content of the paper perfectly.

      • Question each word of the thesis statement.
      • Check if your thesis statement matches the content in your body paragraphs and conclusion.
    • Question whether or not each part of your paper needs to be there. Not even one word should be used if not needed.

      • Do not be afraid to cut information you deem unnecessary. It is a sign of a mature writer.
      • Many times, writers will include information in a paper that is more periphery text rather than ideas that are necessary to explore. Term paper writing is not a rant: keep your structure tight. Term paper writing should be concise and to-the-point.
    • Since this is a final draft, be extra attentive to mistakes, errors, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies. This is your last chance to check over everything.

  7. Step 7: Feedback
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • Visiting your school writing center is the best option. If you are not in school, hire a private tutor to look over your writing.

      • Set an appointment at your local writing center. Be sure to be on time, to bring in a printed copy of your writing, and to be open to suggestions/critique.
      • When hiring a private tutor, it is better to hire an experienced tutor that charges a bit more than expected. They can, sometimes, completely change your outlook on writing and dramatically improve your writing.
    • Listen carefully to what your colleague and/or tutor has said, and make notes about what needs to change. Use your best discretion and change your paper according to your teacher’s criteria.

      • When receiving criticism, be open-minded. Do not fall into the trap of being defensive.
      • Do not be overly-receptive as well. Do not change your entire paper based on others’ comments if the changes do not work better than the original.
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