- By Jason Bacot
- Published 11/29/2010
Writing your first term paper may fill you with dread, but you should receive proper instructions and help along the way. Different teachers do things differently, so there’s no one “term paper writing experience” that’s descriptive for everyone. But here are some ideas about what you can expect. You will have to take notes and gather sources for your research. Your teacher will have a specific format for your note-taking. Some prefer that you use index cards, while others allow you to take notes electronically. Your teacher will instruct you on what resources are allowable. You may be limited to using hard copy library materials, or you may be allowed to use properly-documented online sources. If you’re allowed to use online sources, chances are you will be limited to certain sites, and some sites will be off-limits. Be sure to follow your instructions carefully. You will probably be required to write an outline. Some teachers require very detailed outlines, while others will allow a simple list of points your paper will cover. Again, it’s important that you follow the instructions you’re given. You will be required to write a draft, and your teacher will use that draft to help you understand your term paper’s strong and weak points so that when you write the final paper you can correct the problems and build on your strengths. Here is a list of the things that most teachers will look for when calculating your grade on term papers.
1. A clear, descriptive, re
levant, brief title. 2. A brief summary of what the paper contains. 3. An introduction that clarifies the paper’s topic. 4. Arguments that show that you have chosen a worthwhile topic. 5. Good logical organization. 6. Text that addresses the major issues you raise. 7. Meaningful conclusions that are logical based on your text. 8. Demonstrating that you have done sufficient research. 9. Correct spelling and grammar. How your teacher allocates points for these various components will differ from one teacher to another. Generally, however, demonstrating that you have done good research, and presenting it clearly, sticking to the topic, and having correct grammar and spelling will figure prominently in your grade. Usually there will be several checkpoints with your teacher between the time he or she assigns your term paper and the day you turn it in. Take advantage of each of these checkpoints to improve your work. Demonstrating that you’re interested in the project can’t hurt! If your teacher makes suggestions, follow them, and check back to make sure that your changes are improvements. Succeeding at writing your first term paper is down to following instructions, turning in every stage of the assignment no matter how trivial it may seem, asking questions, and applying yourself. And finally, making sure that you use correct spelling and grammar, and that you fulfill the length requirements.
Once you complete your first term paper, if you’ve given it a good effort, you will have learned something, and can be proud of work well done.