Writing Term Paper
Writing a report is a considerable academic undertaking. This is because, as its name suggests, a report is a text that is written as the culminating assignment of an academic term of study. It is therefore intended to be a comprehensive document revealing a student's acumen in a particular subject. As such, a college report should be a document written in stages throughout the term. In this way, writing a report is very different from writing other types of academic texts, such as essays and shorter papers, because a term paper cannot be fully executed within the span of days. An accomplished term paper requires consistent attention and dedication over several weeks.
The process of writing term papers begins with the generation of a topic. The topic should be a clear and specific aspect of the subject of the course. It should also be one that will likely be unique in the class. For instance, if the student's course were called Great American Presidents, it would probably be best NOT to pick George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, as it is likely that most students would select one of these as their subject of study. Furthermore, the topic should be narrowed to one specific aspect of that topic. For instance, if the student wished to write on John Adams, he or she would want to narrow the topic to discuss one primary aspect of Adams' presidency, such as his diplomacy.
One of the most challenging aspects of writing term papers is the selection of a solid hypothesis statement. A thesis is an argument or main point—it presents the writer's stance or opinion on the topic. For instance, in the report on John Adams' diplomacy, a thesis might assert that "The style of diplomacy under Adams' administration allowed the fledgling America to avoid serious conflict with several foreign nations." This is very specific, and asserts an argument that the student would then need to defend and justify with research.
Once a thesis is decided upon, a student should seek feedback from his or her instructor. This is an important step of term paper writing, and one that many learners neglect. An instructor can assist a student in refining the thesis to be more specific and accurate, and can also assist in the next step of writing a term paper: research. Instructors are often very familiar with the types of scholarly research available on topics in their field of interest; therefore, he or she may point a student in a specific direction after reviewing a student's thesis statement.
The research aspect of writing term papers will be the most time consuming part of the writing process. It will require the student to spend significant time in the university library to first determine what sources are available on his or her topic and then to read those many sources. Students may wish to enlist the assistance of a reference librarian to point them to specific resources and databases that may be of help to them.
When the research has been completed, the student is ready for the writing aspect of the writing process. Because the thesis has already been selected and the research has been read, the actual writing is often the easiest part of writing a report. However, it still takes a considerable time investment in order for the student to clearly articulate his or her points and to effectively integrate his or her research. The report should identify the writer's thesis in the first 1/4 of the text. After that, every paragraph should clearly relate to that thesis, and should use the student's research to support his or her claims. The text should incorporate several sources from the student's research in order to present multiple views on the subject. The report should conclude with the writer presenting insight on the thesis statement that was elucidated by the points presented.
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