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How to Start Research for a Term Paper?

By HWA | Publish On: March 13, 2009 | Posted In:

Term paper is a research paper written by college and university students as part of completion of their academic term or year. Generally, term papers cover about incidents or events, a concept, an argument or a point. This paper must be written original, though the topic could be an old one.

So, the importance of term paper cannot be undermined or trivialized because it is just part of one’s academic term. In fact, it is one of the most difficult tasks as a student. The key to writing a very good term paper lies in choosing the right topic. Each student has different perceptions about the same subject and the primary interests of one student can be different from another student. Hence, it is very important to choose the right topic for term paper.

Also, term paper is not just about writing stuff, but it is, basically about research. A professor will look for how well the research has been done for the term paper and will also look at whether or not the work is plagiarized. So, maximum focus should be on research and proper must be taken so that the writing is not plagiarized.

But first, here are some tips at arriving at the topic you want to research for your term paper. Topic for term paper wouldn’t strike in your mind, just like that. One has to ponder over the right topic for a quite some time. One good way to do this is through brain storming. A brain storming session is must to arrive at the right topic for your term paper. One way of doing this is by laying out a gross topic and outlining each of the sub-topics and related topics to arrive at the idea.

The video explains about how to select a topic for your term paper with a brain storming session. The video shows a concept, “succeeding at college” and the related topics such as money, outside life, health, etc are taken. Under the health topic, issues such as nutrition, sleep and exercise are given. Now, one viable connection between sleep and grades in college grades has been given.

So, this can become your term paper topic. But your term paper must also be very precise and to the point with nothing vague. So, the language has to be refined. Now, when the topic is further refined it comes out as ‘effect of sleep deprivation and grades in students’. So, this is one way of arriving at your term paper topic with a brain storming session. This is just an example to help you to understand how to choose term paper topic. Such brain storming sessions can be applied to change abstract thoughts into something definitive.

Here are some points to remember while writing a term paper

Topic selection: As mentioned earlier, a good topic can ‘make’ or ‘break’ your term paper. So, it is very important that you should select a topic which you like the most or which you understand the most rather than what is the most scoring topic of all or what is the most easiest topic of all. It is not always like that. After you’ve decided on the broad topic, don’t just stop there. Dig deeper. The deeper you dig or the finer you tune, the better. Don’t just choose a topic, choose an important sub-topic and then start researching.

Preliminary research: After deciding on the topic, don’t just start a blind research. Instead, search about the most probable places (books, journals, magazines, online databases, online libraries, etc) for your research. Research is not just about searching some trivial facts. It is about gaining good knowledge on that particular topic and also about finding the right information in the right places. Searching in the right place is also very important. It is like, losing your keys somewhere in the dark and trying to find them under a street light somewhere else, just because, there is some light.

Make a list of your sources: It is a good habit to maintain a list of all your sources of information. You could make an excel sheet where in you can feed in all the information pertaining to the sources. One thing you could do is to add the topics that you’ve searched for in a book, ie in an excel sheet feed in the topic name and the corresponding book from which the topic was found, etc. By doing this, you’ll not lose track about information and in the last minute, it can be very helpful in making the references.

Arriving at problem statement: While researching on a particular topic, you’ll be able to find one or more issues in that topic. So, you need to choose an issue which you can address in your term paper. Do not attempt to answer or address those issues which require knowledge beyond yours. Address those issues which you think you can find answers about.

Writing the term paper: Remember that while writing the term paper, you should be very careful about the language that you use. Always use a formal and impersonal language and passive way of addressing the reader. Do not use an active voice while writing the paper. For example, “I conducted research on the usage of WiFi in sub-urban areas” is not preferred. Instead, “research on WiFi usage in sub-urban areas was conducted” should be used. The paper must also be very objective and definitive in nature. Do not use vague and abstract words such as ‘very’, ‘great’, ‘to a great extent’, ‘so much’, ‘much more’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’, ‘factually’, etc. Such words must be avoided under all circumstances.

These are some of the ideas and rules about writing a term paper. For further details, you can visit our website at

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