Overview of Term Papers

Just like writing essays or research papers, writing term papers are some of the most common assignments in higher education.

Term papers are key academic endeavors for scholars since they account for a substantial part of their grades.

This makes skills on how to write term papers are quite essential particularly for college students.

When writing term term paper, you need to begin with understanding the purposes of your assignment.

That noted, the purposes of writing a term paper is:

The enhancement of knowledge in a particular area as well as development of analytical and writing skills.

Usually, term papers customarily entail lengthy essays focused on a specific subject encompassed in the course work.


Definition of a Term Paper 

It is important to have a clear understanding of the term paper meaning before you embark on writing.

In line with Merriam-Webster, a term paper can be defined as:

“An assignment encompassing major written work in school or college that acts as a measure of the learner’s achievements for a specific term”.


Based on this definition, it is clear that the term paper should effectively illustrate what you have learned throughout the course.


Challenges to Overcome when Writing Term Papers

Writing term papers is not always as easy as it sounds.

Note that although challenging, writing a term paper can also be easy and fulfilling.

You need however to overcome some common challenges, including;

a) Lack of relevant writing skills: term papers as earlier mentioned seek to evaluate a student’s writing skills.

As such, the lack of technical and analytical skills in writing as well as research skills affects the quality of an assignment negatively.


b) Choosing the appropriate topic: choosing a topic is essential in producing a superior term paper.

The topic has to be focused, where it should be narrow enough to allow for an expansive exploration.


Differences between a Term Paper and a Research Paper

Term papers could be confused with research papers.

This is because they sometimes have common features and could sometimes be even related.

That noted, understanding the difference between the two is fundamental when developing the outline for a term paper.

This understanding clears pontentail confusion between writing a term paper outline and writing a research paper outline.

Such differences could be as illustrated below.


Term Paper Vs Research Paper


Term Paper Research Paper
It is written to show that one has acquired knowledge in a particular area or subject. It entails an academic study that seeks to answer certain theoretical questions.
The objective is to teach the learner how to use literature and apply knowledge in practical cases. The objective is to teach the learner how to explore a certain phenomenon using an appropriate approach, point of view, or methodology.
It is usually assigned to the learners at the end of the term. Can be assigned to the learners at any time of the term.
Its length could span between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Its length could be up to 5,000 words.


Away from the above term paper vs research paper matrix, term papers and research papers could vary based on the field of study, topic area under exploration, or the instructor’s requirements.



Features of a Superior Term Paper

A good term paper can be the difference between poor and excellent grades.

It is therefore important for scholars to understand what is expected of them when writing such papers.

These expectations define the features of a superior term paper.

They encompass:


a) Clarity and coherence: term papers entail an investigation around a certain subject matter.

As such, as a scholar you are required to clearly express your ideas ensuring that they flow in a fluid manner.

b) Should be extensive and characteristic of in-depth research: the term paper should depict thorough research, where it should contribute new insights about the subject under study.

Various views about an issue should be explored by analyzing numerous sources. These sources should be well referenced.

c) Should express a certain point of view: despite exploring the various perspectives about an issue, the scholar should be able to advance a specific point of view.

 This point of view should be supported with evidence.


d) It should be analytical: this is an important feature of a term paper and it should illustrate the ability of the scholar to cross-examine available evidence in relation to a specific subject matter.



Outline for a Term Paper

One of the tools requisite to the writing process is an elaborate outline for a term paper. Note that this outline could vary depending on the nature of the term paper.

The outline for a term paper is very flexible. For instance, a term paper may sometimes include or exclude sections such as literature review or methods, depending on the nature of entailed research.

That said, a typical term paper outline template may be as illustrated below.


Outline Template 1

This is a common but a more complex outline for a term paper. Its sections could be as discussed below.


Cover Page

A term page cover page is usually the first page of the paper and should contain key information, including:

1. Student’s name

2. Course and/or course number

3. Instructor’s name

4. Date published-usually deadline’s date


In most cases, the term paper cover page should exclusively include the above information. However, when using a format like the MLA, it might contain the actual term paper’s work.



This is an important section in a term paper outline template. The abstract encompasses a summary of the whole term paper.

From the abstract, the reader should understand what the term paper is all about. It should provide highlights on the thesis or research direction and all the different sections of the term paper.

It should be brief and precise. The recommended length is about 150 words.



This is a prominent part of the outline for a term paper. The section should provide information on key areas such as:

1. Issue or problem under study: It should clearly highlight what the term paper seeks to study.

2. Literature review: This should involve the current knowledge on ideas, approaches, and findings on the issue you are studying.

3. Significance of the problem: This should look at the implications of the problem.

4. Solution: This entails the approach you intend to apply towards finding a solution to the problem or issue studied.



The methods section is also critical to the outline for a term paper. It encompasses the techniques used to acquire data or information on the issue under study.

In this section, you should look at:

1. The steps taken in acquiring or using the data

2. The usability, quality, and relevance of data acquired.



The term paper template should include the results section. This section is usually the height of a term paper.

It should examine a number of issues, including:

1. The findings you have derived

2. The appropriateness of the findings in answering the questions or issues set out in the introduction section.



This is an elaborate section in the outline for a term paper. The section should look at a number of things, including:

1. The meaning of the observations made

2. The summary of key findings

3. The conclusion that can be drawn from the findings

4. The relevancy of the results in broader context



The conclusion is equally a key section in a term paper outline template. It gives the deductions made from the term paper study.

In this section you should provide the solution to issue being studied.

As well, recommendations can be made when necessary.



Outline Template 2

The above is a more complex term paper template. A simple outline could be as illustrated below.



This should give the purpose of the term paper. The section should include:

1. Background of the work

2. Thesis statement



This section of the term paper template entails the research work on the issue under study.

The body is usually divided into different headings and subheadings that are connected to support an argument.

Examples of such sections may be as illustrated below:


Heading 1: Problem’s History

Heading 2: Problem’s Extent

Heading 3: Effects of the Problem

Subheading 1: Effect on People

Subheading 2: Effect on Institutions


Subheading 3 Effect on the Environment



This is a brief summary of the points advanced in the term paper. It links the points to the thesis statement.



Formatting a Term Paper

Formatting has an intricate impact on the term paper outline template you seek to employ in your work.

Just like in all other genres of academic writing, the term paper could assume different types of writing formats.

Such formats influence the term paper cover page as well as the entire structure.

Note that although the cover page similarly to heading a paper could be seen as less important, it is essential that they observe the appropriate formatting style.

Such formats may include:

1. APA

2. MLA

3. Harvard

4. Chicago

5. AMA




Tips for Writing a Term Paper

After generating the outline for a term paper, the next step should be writing down the paper. The writing process should be elaborate.

For effective use of an appropriate term paper template, you could follow some key tipis. Such tips include:


1. Conduct Extensive Research

This is one of the most important measures when writing a term paper. It should precede the development of the term paper outline.

It should be clear that you should not start writing your term paper before embarking on in-depth research on the issue you seek write about.

In this, the researching process employed could be similar to the one used when researching for an essay.

Researching should be done with the aim of acquainting yourself with the entailed issues, finding relevant content, and helping save on writing time.


2. Create an Outline before you Start Writing   

As a tip, creating the outline for a term paper is very fundamental in ensuring you effectively address the entailed term paper topics being explored.

A good term paper outline should give you control over the writing process. This is because it helps you identify the specific areas to write about and time required for exhausting each area.

The outline also enhances organization and coherency.


3. Ensure that the Introduction is Captivating

A good introduction is critical in creating a good first impression among those reading your term paper.

The reader is more likely to keenly read your work when your introduction is compelling. This as well enhances chances for a positive response and a favorable assessment.

On the other hand, a poor introduction can easily impair fair evaluation of facts in body however how solid they could be.


4. Use Formal Language  

As derived from the term paper meaning, it is clear that term paper writing is a form of formal writing.

It is therefore important to ensure that the language used in the term paper is up to the appropriate academic standards.

This requires you to avoid the use of first person, contractions, and colloquialism.

In this, unnecessary words and jargon should be avoided at all costs.


5. Conclude Effectively

A strong conclusion plays an important role in summing up your term paper. It has been proven that the conclusion is as important as the introduction.

To create an effective conclusion, you should use the ROCC approach. This approach requires you to:

1. Restate you position

2. Use One key and strong idea

3. Use a Concluding tone, and

4. Leave an effective Clincher


6. Proofread your Work

This is the last and one of the most essential tips when writing a term paper. It requires you to go through the term paper to ensure that it adheres to the provided instructions.

You should also check for coherency of the work.



How to Write Term Papers

After developing the outline and understanding the different tips, you can now go ahead and write the term paper.

Note that that the process of writing a term paper is important.

It requires the scholar to understand the requirements of as well as the steps entailed in crafting the respective paper.

This process can vary from one institution or instructor to another.

Nonetheless, there are important steps of writing a superior term paper. These steps include:


Step 1: Choosing a Topic

Choosing the right topic is the first step on how to write term papers.

In some cases, the topic is chosen for the scholar.

However, when the scholars are allowed to choose the topic, they should be as creative as possible. You should choose a topic you are interested in.

Then narrow down the topic by examining perspectives that have not been explored before.

Look at how people have responded to encompassed issues while relating them to your topic to acquire more ideas about the topic.


Step 2: Conducting an In-depth Research

Research is paramount in giving insights on background information to the topic as well as current and future ideas about the topic.

Examine different approaches to the topic/issue under study.

This can be achieved by conducting primary and secondary research and seeking opinions of fellow students.


Step 3: Refining the Thesis Statement

Refining the thesis statement is considered another key step on how to write term papers.

It entails determining the central idea to be discussed in the term paper.

You should be able to advance your argument around the central idea and support it with evidence.

As such, the thesis statement should expressly state to the reader what they should expect as the content of the paper.

The thesis statement should be interesting and provide room for modification to accommodate respective ideas in the paper as it develops.


Step 4: Developing the Paper’s Outline

An outline is extremely important when writing a term paper as it acts as direction on the process of crafting the paper.

The outline should help you to develop a suitable structure and framework for the work.

It should focus on such aspects as sections of the term paper, forms of paragraphs to be adopted, and questions to be answered.


Step 5: Developing the Introduction

Developing the introduction as a step on how to write term papers is essential since the introductory paragraph sets the layout for the term paper.

The introduction should be developed in a manner that it does not hamper expansive expression of relevant ideas.

You should understand that the introduction also affects the general organization of the paper.


Step 6: Supporting your Argument   

This is done through the supporting paragraphs. The body of the term paper should encompass paragraphs advancing the central idea.

These paragraphs must be backed with verifiable evidence.


Step 7: Crafting an Appropriate Conclusion

This is considered among the last steps on how to write term papers.

The conclusion should be strong enough.

It should restate the thesis statement and conclude with essential details.


Step 8: Re-writing the Paper

This step entails rereading the term paper to ensure that it is coherent, ideas are supported with evidence, and grammatical errors are corrected.

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