The procedure for writing a term paper with tips and sample

Definition of a term paper

A term paper is a research-based assignment to be undertaken by every student at the end of an academic term. It is an assignment aimed at evaluating the student’s understanding of a topic. The lecturer or teacher chooses the topic to assign a student based on syllabus coverage over the academic term. While there is definite length for this type of assignment a commonly accepted one is 5000. It requires that the student reflects on what was covered during the academic term and apply it to evaluate scenarios.

How of differentiate term paper from a research paper

It is arguable that term paper and research paper have some features in common such as both require certain level of research to complete. However, it should be noted that a term paper is only done at the end of the academic term while a research paper can be done at the beginning or middle of academic term. One of the key differences between term paper and research paper is that the latter is mainly aimed at finding a solution to a problem while the purpose of the former is mainly to reflect on the knowledge about a specific topic. The research paper is also different from term paper in that it aims at rejecting or supporting a hypothesis while a term paper simply supports existing thesis papers.

The outline of a term paper

A term paper has different formats based on the course and thus requires the guidance of the instructor. However, a common format includes:

Title page: Contains the title of the paper, name of the student, the teacher and date of submission

Acknowledgement:  the inspiration of the student for the subject or the support in completing the paper

Abstract: a summary of the paper

Literature review:  Listing and discussing related research work and studies around the topic in question to obtain information to support your arguments

Methodology: Explanation of the research method used in the paper

Results: description of the research findings

Recommendations: suggestion of new ideas to be explored in future in relation to your topic

Reference list: enlist the resource materials used in the research

Start writing the tem paper

Prepare the abstract

An abstract is a summary of about 120 to 250 words of the term paper and is best written after completing the other sections of the paper. It highlights the key findings of the paper, the conclusions from the findings and recommendations for future studies. It requires one to go through and identify key points in objectives, methods, results and conclusions sections of the paper.  An abstract is different from the introduction in that it summarizes the paper by highlighting the key points in different sections while the introduction gives background information on the topic and outlines what will be discussed. An abstract should include the following information:

  • An introduction to the topic that briefly describes the issues being addressed in the paper.  It should demonstrate the reason for the topic and purpose of the study either practically or theoretically.
  • A body section that outlines the key points of the study. The body section should also contain the methods used in investigating the research question. It should also provide brief description of the results obtained
  • The last section of the abstract is the conclusion that explains how the results can be applied or their implications in the field of study.

The introduction

An introduction is what sells the paper to the reader by briefly talking about the topic and how you intend to tackle it.  It should only cover general information about the topic, however, it should not be too general that it becomes boring to the reader. You introduction should aim at:

  • Grabbing attention of the readers by providing interesting and controversial statements
  • Give an overview of the topic and how the paper will explore it. It should provide brief description of the topic and the objective of the paper.
  • Tell readers what the paper is addressing in form of a thesis statement

Create the body sections

The body is the main section of the term paper that contains all other subsections. It requires extensive research to find relevant information that answers the questions of the term paper. It consists of many paragraphs based on the assigned topic. Each paragraph contains new information that is either a continuation of the previous one or introduction of a new subtopic.

The body also contains literature review that analyzes various sources relevant to the research topic. It summarizes the theories and arguments of other authors as well as pointing out any missing information or what was not well covered by the authors.  The following tips are key to writing an effective literature review:

  • It should provide strong evidence in form of quotations or data with effective referencing
  • It should focus on the analysis of primary and secondary sources, current issues as well as your personal point of view
  • Should not summarize the sources but evaluate them in relation to the topic in question
  • Should develop arguments from general to specific information


This is the last section of the term paper that summarizes the paper and provides key implications in the practical or theoretical field. It should not add new information but provide a brief descriptions of the final results and their implications

Tips for writing a term paper

Conduct research

A term paper is research intensive because it involves collecting information from existing papers to support your arguments on a topic. Find books or papers covering the topic in question and define how the information fits in your paper. Moreover, it is at the research phase that you curate the flow of your paper as well as the reference list.

Define an outline

Create an outline to guide your writing, it shows the amount of time required for each section of the term paper. An outline also helps establish a logical flow for your paper, it lists the topic and subtopics in an orderly manner and help readers follow through easily.

Sample of a term paper

Follow the link to download a sample of term paper

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