Term Paper Definition: What Is a Term Paper and How to Write It Properly?

If you have been assigned to write a term paper in one of your college or university disciplines, be sure that you get to know the term paper definition first. There are the following ways in which a term paper can be defined:

  1. The major writing task that a high school or college student gets to submit in order to demonstrate his/ her competence in a specific subject and the level of knowledge he/ she has obtained during a term.
  2. A lengthy essay that requires a student to carry out extensive research on a topic.
  3. A type of a research paper that is assigned for students during an academic term and that constitutes a major percentage of the grade.
  4. A paper that mainly deals with the description and research of a concept, term, event, issue, etc. and that has the purpose to put forward an argument in relation to it.
  5. A term paper is a writing assignment in the form of a report, essay, research paper, etc., which a student is supposed to submit on a specific topic that was covered throughout the term.
  6. A piece of academic writing that is handed in at the end of the term and that is decisive for a student`s final grade.
  7. The main report submitted by a student on a specific topic and in a specific course subject.
  8. The main research paper that is submitted by a student in a certain subject.

Many students have questions regarding the topic, specifically what topic should be chosen. If you have not been assigned a specific topic, be sure to formulate a topic that is relevant to the subject and that you have covered ether directly or adjacently in the course. Remember that you need to rely on credible and up-to-date sources, so consult only those that are peer-reviewed. Always cite sources when you refer to them in the text since otherwise, your paper can contain plagiarism. When it comes to the paper length, maintain the average one: on average, it should be 5,000 words. The format is regular unless you have any other requirements.

College Term Paper Outline

If you want to ease the process of writing and would like to escape the risk of encountering a writer`s block, be sure that a college term paper outline is a must. The outline functions as the backbone of your paper and a compass throughout the process of writing. You have a detailed plan and essay structure even before it is completed. Even though many students consider outline writing to be a waste of time, an outline actually helps you to stay focused on the paper, its core idea, main points, and the actual thesis development.

Sometimes an outline is asked by your professor or academic supervisor but even if it is not, it is a great idea to write it for yourself. When you consult with your academic supervisor on a regular basis, it is recommended to show him/ her an outline because it will be easier for him/ her trace your thoughts and ideas and actually understand what idea you intend to convey.

When designing your outline, be sure to include the main elements of the paper organization. In particular, be sure to outline the following sections:

  • introductory paragraph alongside the formulation of the paper purpose. Make sure you acquaint the target readers with the central problem;
  • body paragraphs with clear topic sentences;
  • examples and illustrations to each idea conveyed in the body paragraphs;
  • make sure to provide headings and subheadings (it is particularly important for long papers);
  • the conclusion to sum up all ideas and re-emphasize the key findings.

It is important to follow the structure or template of the outline provided by your professor. Normally, you will also have to provide an abstract of your writing in the final version of the paper. It is a so-called synopsis of everything you have written about. When structuring the outline, it is essential to adhere to the logical order of the development of the ideas and present the paragraphs in the order of priority or importance. It is essential to make as many sub-points to the topic as possible. If you do not need them all in the very essay – no worries. Simply including them in the outline will help you structure your ideas better and will also help you decide what is important and not.

Term Paper Proposal for a Research

Before researching and writing the actual term paper, you need to find out what a term paper proposal is. With the help of proposal writing, a student can inform his/ her professor on the topic and on the significance of its researching. The success of the term paper proposal is decisive for whether your topic will be approved by the professor or not. The focus of the proposal is to communicate across the importance of the research and explain why it is relevant. Apart from that, you need to outline the main aims and objectives of the research and demonstrate the logical and smooth flow of ideas.

If you have not been given a specific sample or template by your professor, be sure to follow such structure of term paper proposal writing:

  • title of the term paper: formulate the title in a brief and concise form;
  • term paper objectives: identify the main research outcomes you plan to achieve;
  • significance and relevance of the research: address to the current situation, recent news, examples from the media, etc.;
  • adhere to a specific formatting and citation style.

When choosing a topic, make sure that it is not merely interesting for you but that it is also topical and appealing to your professor and the target audience. Afterward, be sure to provide a brief description of the topic in order to shed more light on its background and overall paper significance. When you outline the parts or sections of your paper, be sure to briefly mention what each part will cover. When focusing on the topic's significance, be sure to pinpoint the originality of research and the contribution you will make. Provide a list of references you intend to use in the paper. If you use primary sources, be sure to provide an explanation of how you plan to collect data.

Term Paper vs Research Paper: What Are the Similarities and Differences?

Many students frequently mistake a term paper for an ordinary research paper, so here are some main aspects of term paper vs research paper that you need to consider. The terms are actually overlapping in many aspects but the main difference is that a term paper is submitted only at the end of a term in a specific subject whereas a research paper may be a rather casual and frequent academic assignment. Some term papers may be based on research papers but not all research is term papers.

List of Differences between a Term Paper and a Research Paper

  1. Time Frame

To complete a term paper, a student is usually given more time than for an ordinary research paper. Specifically, a student may be asked to start working on the term paper right from the beginning of the term whereas a research paper may be a home-take assignment for a few days or weeks (depending on the paper length).

  1. Purpose

A research paper has a specific purpose, such as to find a solution to a certain problem (usually, a research paper is based on a single problem) whereas a term paper has a more global purpose – to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and the overall competence that a student has acquired over the term.

  1. Hypothesis

a research paper should provide a central hypothesis that should be either proved or contradicted by the end of the research, whereas a term paper focuses on supporting the idea put forward.

  1. Importance for the Grade

A term paper is more impactful for a student`s final grade, whereas a research paper is not.

  1. Paper Length

The length of a research paper varies and it can be quite short, whereas a term paper is usually 3,000 – 5,000 words in length.

  1. Scope of Research

A research paper is mainly written on a specific topic and demonstrates a student`s competence in finding a solution to the question, whereas a term paper demonstrates the other skills and overall student`s expertise.

  1. References

A term paper usually requires a bigger number of references cited.

A research paper may be assigned in any discipline, subject, and at any point in studying, whereas a term paper is submitted strictly at the end of the term.

As you try to write each of these papers, be sure that you need to demonstrate a focused, diligent and hard-working approach to the process of research and writing. Be sure you have to be logical and concise and incorporate all the knowledge you have gained over the studying process. Moreover, use the experience and knowledge you have acquired from the previous writing assignments.

Besides, be sure to approach each assignment with creativity so that you demonstrate that even a research paper can be provided in an interesting and engaging way. When putting forward the argument, be sure to sound convincing and strong. Moreover, provide back-up evidence and illustrative examples from credible and convincing sources.

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