How to Write a Term Paper on Schedule
All college students will have to write term paper projects at some point during their studies. A term paper is a long, usually investigation-based text that explores a specific topic related to the course for which it is written. A term paper is different from a standard research paper in that it is expected to execute this exploration using foundational knowledge and skills that have been acquired throughout the term of study. Thus, a term paper is a focused text that demonstrates the student's ability to apply what has been learned in class to a subject related to the course. Because term papers are long and complex texts, they are intended to be composed over a significant period of time. Students will therefore find that it is very helpful to write term paper schedules before beginning the composition process in order to designate when certain tasks related to the project should be completed. A sample term paper schedule is detailed below.
Week 1: Term Paper Schedule; Term Paper Topic
Typically, a term paper assignment is distributed about halfway through the course. Thus, most term papers need to be completed in approximately eight weeks. As soon as the student receives his or her assignment, he or she should make a schedule detailing how to complete the project in a thorough but timely manner. This week, the student should also come up with a general topic of interest. This topic should be very specific. For instance, if the course were on American literature, the student's topic should not be "the poetry of T.S. Eliot." This is far too vague, as there are dozens of important Eliot works and volumes written about Eliot's poetic style. Rather, learners should pick a very narrow topic, such as "the way Eliot's The Wasteland reflects the principles and aesthetic of literary Modernism."
Week 2: Develop a Thesis; Get Thesis Approved
Once the student has developed a topic, the student must write a report thesis on that topic. A thesis is a very specific and assertively presented point or argument. It is likely that the learner will have to do some preliminary research about the topic of his choice before deciding on a thesis worthy of investigation. Once the student has drafted a solid hypothesis, he or she should consult with the professor of the course to get approval for and feedback on the thesis. This is very important, as the professor can offer important insight on the student's thesis topic and how to proceed with the research.
Week 3: Begin Research
The student should begin the research process by searching for and acquiring important resources on the topic. This may require the student to order texts from other libraries. A research librarian is a valuable partner in this process.
Week 4: Continue Research
Week 5: Write Term Paper Outline
Using notes taken during the research process, the student should write a detailed term paper outline noting the primary points that will be made in the text and the research that will be included to support each point.
Week 6: Write Term Paper Draft
A complete initial draft of the document should be composed this week. This draft should follow the outline, and should incorporate the sources listed in the outline.
Week 7: Revise; Seek Feedback; Revise
To write term papers well requires an intense revision process. The student should consider whether the project is clear, well-structured, and compelling. After revisions, the student should attempt to find a classmate or other knowledgeable reader to read the draft and give feedback. The report should be revised again based on the reader's response.
Week 8: Proofreading
After the draft has been revised a second time, the student should proofread thoroughly for grammar, spelling, stylistic, and formatting errors. After this, the term paper is ready to be submitted.
Though it may seem overwhelming to have to write term papers, learners can make the project manageable and even enjoyable by creating and following a schedule such as this. In this way, each component of the composition process is afforded enough time to ensure quality and prevent excessive stress.
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