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What is a Term Paper.pdf

What is a Term Paper.pdf

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A very concise how to guide to writing term papers
A very concise how to guide to writing term papers

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Published by: Mohammad Umar Rehman on Feb 14, 2013
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07/30/2014

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What is a Term Paper?

Ideally, a term paper is an academic paper that could be published. Of course, this is not really to be expected, but it defines the format that term papers should emulate. Academic writing has its objective in the increase of knowledge and the understanding of a particular phenomenon. Academic writing should strive for objectivity, accuracy, clarity and veracity. Academic papers have a specific format and the topic has to fit the format – you cannot write about Hamlet as such in a 15 page paper. One of the most frequent problems of students is that they cannot think of a suitable topic – but finding a suitable topic may well be part of the assignment. The topic for a term paper can be anything that may serve to increase the knowledge and understanding of a literary phenomenon, like a text, specific elements of a text, a theory, the process of reading, the act of understanding, the empirical reception, the sociology of writing or reading etc. (this list is not complete and the items are not ordered according to their significance). At the core of the paper there should be an idea, and that idea should be yours. Most often the idea is, in short, that some aspect you have noticed while reading the text (an important motif, a recurring element, a significant feature etc.) deserves particular attention because it contributes to the overall meaning of the text or favours a particular interpretation. This interpretation should be interesting and go beyond the very surface of the text – i.e. arguing that Lady de Winter in The Three Musketeers is beautiful and seductive and this explains why many men fall in love with her, is not very enlightening. However, explaining what exactly the animal imagery in the description of Alisaun in Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale” means in the medieval context and what concept of feminine beauty is revealed by it, does count as a very suitable topic. The paper then consists of an analysis in which the chosen aspect is shown as being relevant, followed by an interpretation which argues what this relevant aspect contributes to the meaning of the text. Interpretations are not true but they have to be plausible, i.e. they have to make sense as possible or even probable readings which take account of the text as a whole in relation to the chosen element. Readings which ignore most of the text to argue a detail are usually problematic and most often faulty. Interpretations are not true, but they can be demonstrably wrong!! Once you have found a topic you need to discuss it with the instructor or supervisor. This is necessary, because occasionally the topic is ultimately too difficult or for other reasons unsuitable – instructors once in a while have to save the students from eccentric ideas. In the course of thinking about the topic and then of writing the paper you will have to take into account that other people have already worked on the text and maybe on your topic.

so had previous researchers. This is also the reason why one usually writes the introduction last – or rather alters the introduction so that it fits the paper. – does it offer a contradictory interpretation but nevertheless allow me to maintain my own idea and reading.Working on well-known and in particular canonical older texts this can hardly be avoided because they usually have been well-researched. each paragraph should be treated as a specific argument. indeed. but do not construct logical connections where they do not exist. However. are used at least sometimes in situations where there is no logical link – also known as non sequitur. do not use the same quotation twice and do not present the same arguments repeatedly. and it is not very likely that a student has a really new idea about Shakespeare or Chaucer. In most papers. but the idea is adapted so that it now is supported by the “new evidence”. a. In the sciences we find the claim that there is nothing like a failed experiment. So you have to read secondary literature critically with the following questions in mind: – is it relevant for my argument. – does it force me to change my mind. this is also a suitable result.a. For all other information see the “Guidelines For Writing Seminar Papers”. In literary studies. . But this is no impediment to the work on your paper. “Style Sheet”. – does it support a reading that is compatible with mine. Make sure that the arguments are coherent. we can always learn something from it – occasionally that our concept was wrong or that the setup does not work as we intended it to.k. therefore” “it follows”. – does it support me. – is it faulty or improbable so that I can try to falsify it. it is usually not treated as a “failed” idea. if the secondary literature convinces you that your idea was not really valid. Avoid redundancy! Unless it is absolutely necessary. It should begin with a kind of proposition and then elaborate on this proposition and/or offer the evidence that supports it. the words “thus”. “in consequence” “so” etc. as arguments that you have to discuss and possibly strive to invalidate. Most papers are at least to some extent redundant and some are excessively so. No matter what the outcome. because students may well have their own ideas about texts and then find out that. In the paper. and this is as important. The secondary literature then serves as support for your theory or.

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