How to Write a Winning College Term Paper

How to Write a Winning College Term Paper
  • Opening Intro -

    College term papers, also known as research papers, can be a significant part of your grade for a class.

    The "term" part of this phrase tells you that you have the bulk of the college term or semester to complete your assignment.

    If your instructor calls it a research paper, then your completion window may be narrower.

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Your paper must be in-depth, cite the appropriate sources, offer your insight and be plagiarism-free. These days, with so much information easily available online, the plagiarism part must be avoided at all costs and will be part of our “how to” discussion. As you undertake your own assignment, the following steps can be followed to ensure that you will write a winning college term paper.

Step No. 1 — Identify your topic. Likely, your professor has given you and your fellow students some leeway in choosing a topic. If your professor has a topic list, then you will need to choose from that list and move on to the next point.

If there is some room for you to select the topic of your own choosing, consider what subject interests you. Then, begin to look for some sources that discuss this topic. You may choose not to reference these sources, but it can help you gauge if there is sufficient material available.

Step No. 2 — Start your research. You’ve submitted your topic idea to your professor and have received her approval to move forward. You are now ready to begin your research.

You have multiple places where you can look for information about your topic. The Internet is, of course, the easiest place, but it is not the only place. Your college library has books, magazines and encyclopedias at the ready; you can also explore databases to see what you turn up.

Step No. 3 — Develop an outline. You need to get your paper organized and the best way to do this is to write up an outline. You can use a ruled 8×11 paper to create an outline, listing the working title of your paper at the top of the page and starting off with your introduction.

Following the introduction, which will tell your readers what your paper is about, you need to determine several main points that will comprise the body of your paper. Each section you create will be filled out as you complete your research and get ready to write your first draft.

Step No. 4 — Write your first draft. With your research completed and your notes assembled, you need to take your notes and turn them into a lucid, concise paper. Fortunately, you have a first draft that gives you the room and time to pull your information together.

Your draft will help you take your outline and flesh it out, enabling you to defend your point of view or provide information. Essentially, you’ll be required to defend your title, which could say something like this, “Racism in a Post-Racial Society.” You’ll need to prove your point by outlining facts that support your viewpoint.

Step No. 5 — Review and fact checking. Once you have finished your first draft, you need to review what you wrote. Here, you will want to wait at least a full day before reading your draft over, as fresh eyes can help you see something you might have missed.

Carefully explore the sources that you have referenced to ensure that your quotes match what the individual has said. Take care here — you can be charged with plagiarism if you don’t cite sources and you can also have your grade dinged if you fail to include your own viewpoint.

Step No. 6 — Write your final copy. After several revisions, you now have a paper that is concise, clear and interesting. It is now time to write up your final copy.

That copy should follow your professor’s guidelines and employ one of four style choices: MLA, APA, Turabian or Chicago. Your professor will tell you the one that you must use. Remove extraneous verbiage. Clear up muddled sentences. Make use of word economy. Create a “works cited” section at the end of your paper.

Step No. 7 — Present your finished work. Before you hand in your final copy, you need to ensure that it meets the requirements as outlined by your professor. These include using the right character and sized font, double spacing, proofreading the document for spelling mistakes and grammar issues, and setting it up in the layout required.

Your research paper will include a cover page, an index, the main report, a bibliography and any other supporting material your instructor requires. Once you’re done, have someone else proofread it. Make final corrections and then submit it.

Term Paper Considerations

Start your assignment as soon as you receive it, to allow ample time to research your paper. Use a planner to keep track of your steps and have your final copy ready several days before it is due — that way, you’ll build in some shoulder room if an emergency or other problem arises. You are now done with your paper, ready to turn it in and will await your professor’s feedback. Done right, you should achieve a high grade, one that will have a significant impact on your class’ overall grade.

SourceUniversity of Maryland: How to Write College Research Papers 

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