Academic Research Tips: How To Effectively Write Your Term Paper

Although time-consuming, completing an academic research paper is very beneficial for any student. The entire process of writing an academic paper serves as an effective platform for students to improve their ability to conduct research and their critical thinking skills, as well as boost their agility in communication. Academic research papers also help students exchange and create ideas.   

This blog post explains what is academic research and why it is very beneficial for a student’s learning and development. But, do you actually know how to write one?  Do you know where and how to start the process?  Not having answers to these questions can usually put all of your efforts down the drain because you’ll likely end up with a research paper that contains shallow information. 

Make sure that none of these happen by taking note of the following tips for you to effectively write your term paper:

1. Carefully Choose A Topic 

Choosing a topic is one of the most important tasks when writing an academic paper. This should be on top of your to-do list when writing your academic research paper because your topic will streamline your efforts and determine what you should do next. Different research topics will require different efforts from students, and choosing your topic early will give you an excellent idea on how you can produce an outstanding term paper. 

Aside from this, the topic you’ll end up choosing for your research paper can significantly affect your outlook or interest in completing the paper. Choosing a topic just for the sake of it will make it hard for you to work on the academic research paper. Remember, creating an academic research paper will require a lot of time, and you will often see yourself drained in the middle of the process if you don’t personally like your topic. How will you have the interest to work on your term paper if you don’t like the topic in the first place?  Do you think you will be motivated to gather as much information for the term paper if you don’t have any idea what the topic is all about? 

If this is your first time to write an academic research paper and don’t have any idea how to pick a topic, consider these tips: 

  • Brainstorm for ideas: 

    With the number of topics you can possibly write for your academic research paper, spend some time to brainstorm for ideas so you can easily narrow down your options. Assess if you’re interested to know more about social or political controversies, news stories, or personal issues. Write down any concepts or keywords related to these topics and determine if these actually excite you.

  • Read general background information: 

    After narrowing down your options, work on reading some general background information about the topic. You can do this by using an online encyclopedia or reading a broad summary of the topic. Periodical indexes, journals, and newspapers are also great sources for you to know more about the topic you’re eyeing to write about. 

Reading general background information is always a must because it helps you determine whether or not you have the right idea about a specific topic. The information you can acquire from this process can help clear out any misconceptions, and help you assess if you have enough resources to actually support the topic you have in mind. 

  • Focus on your topic:

    Your responsibility as a researcher merely starts once you’ve decided on the topic you’re going to write about. You still have to determine the scope of your topic because writing one that is too broad will make the entire process more challenging, while making one that’s too narrow might make it hard for you to drive your point across.   

If you’re eyeing to write a topic about the environment, limit its scope by considering the following: 

  • By geographical area: 

    What are the most common environmental issues faced by the individuals in Southern Australia? 

  • By time frame: 

    What are the top X prominent environmental issues faced by humans in the last 15 years? 

  • By discipline:

    How does environmental awareness affect common business practices today? 

2. Write A Working Thesis Statement 

As mentioned, writing an academic research paper is a long and tiring process that will require time and effort. Depending on the scope of your term paper, you might even have to spend months just to complete it. Aside from deciding which topic to write about, a working thesis statement can also help you organize your thoughts and efforts. A working thesis statement can serve as your guide for your investigation and can help you stay focused on the topic you’ve chosen. 

Ideally, your working thesis statement should be concise and properly reflect the type of term paper you’re writing about. The more concise your working thesis statement is, the easier it’ll be for you to start and finish your academic research paper. 

Academic research papers are generally divided into these categories: 

  • Persuasive or argumentative if you’re planning to argue the conclusion presented in your term paper 
  • Expository when you want to thoroughly explain information in your term paper 
  • Analytical when you want to present your own analysis (with necessary information from other sources to support your claims) of certain information 

After you’ve picked a topic, devote a lot of time in creating a strong thesis statement around that topic. The thesis statement you will use for your academic research paper will give readers a clear idea of what the paper is all about and why you have chosen a specific topic. 

Aside from making sure that your thesis statement is associated with your topic, you also have to make sure that it is narrow and very debatable. It’ll be very easy for you to look for resources that can prove your claims on your paper if your thesis statement is narrow and debatable.  

Although it can be tempting to come up with a thesis statement that is too broad, don’t do it. This will usually result in stress as you will have to find more evidence and studies to convince readers that the information you’ll be presenting in your paper is actually accurate. 

3. Research On Your Topic 

As the name suggests, your academic research paper will require you to do a lot of research. Aside from researching more information about your topic and its scope, you also have to look for primary and secondary credible sources that you can incorporate into your term paper. Regardless of how thorough your conclusions are, if these are not properly supported by high-quality resources, your term paper won’t have any teeth. 

The idea of researching for your term paper can be overwhelming, but following these tips will make the process easy for you: 

  • Gather credible sources related to your topic and carefully read each of them:

    Just because you’ve found a journal online with a similar topic as that of your term paper, it doesn’t mean that you should immediately incorporate this to your research. Is the information presented in the online journal apt to your point?  Will this support your conclusion or make your paper more convincing?  You should have answers to all of these questions before deciding which sources to use for your academic research paper. 

  • The newer the information is, the better: 

    The advent of technology will make it very easy for you to access resources that you can use for your term paper. You can basically type in your search online, hit “enter”, and wait until the World Wide Web provides you with millions of sources. 

Aside from making sure that the sources are accurate to the topic you want to discuss in your academic research paper, it’s also important to take note of the dates as to when these sources were made or published. Information can change over time, and the claims that were deemed true five years ago might no longer be accurate today. Ideally, the sources you’ll use for your academic research paper should not be more than five years old. 

  • Study the different citation style guide: 

    Your academic research paper will not be complete without citations. Any information you will incorporate to your term paper should be followed by a citation, such that your readers should know the original authors of the sources you’ve used and when these were published. 

There are different citation styles today, so make sure to ask your professor on which to use. Usually, the MLA (Modern Language Association) style is often used in humanities, while the APA (American Psychological Association) style is used in psychology and education. Chicago Notes and Bibliography is used in history, and Chicago Author-Date is often utilized in the sciences. 

Study all of these citation styles and determine how each differs from each other so you can easily cite resources in your academic research paper. 

4. Make A Good Outline

Researching and using different sources will give you tons of exciting new ideas–too many that you won’t have any idea what to do with all of them. Thoroughly researching your topic will surely help you create an accurate and flawless academic research paper, but having too much information at hand can also be very stressful. Where does this information belong in the paper?  How can you effortlessly incorporate all of this researched information into your paper?  The questions can go on. 

If you don’t want all of your efforts in researching to be wasted, organize all of these pieces of information by making a good outline. This is actually a very vital step in making your academic research paper because a good outline can help you stay focused and ensure that all of the information you’ll use in your paper is actually apt to your topic. You can think of your outline as a sifter to help you decide which chunks of information to incorporate and where you will place them in your paper. 

For you to write a good outline for your academic research paper, these tips might come in handy: 

  • Pay attention to where you’re going to place your thesis statement: 

    Your thesis statement is important because it will help your readers determine what they will expect from your paper. If you want to keep them hooked from the start to the end of your academic research paper, make sure to place your thesis statement at the very beginning of the document. 

Your thesis statement should also be written in a way that it provokes your readers’ emotions. If your thesis statement sparks their interests, they will surely have the motivation to read every page of your term paper. 

  • Indicate the major points to support your thesis statement:

    You will have to research and use a lot of sources when you create an academic research paper. To ensure that all of these pieces of information remain cohesive in your paper, label your major points in Roman numerals, and, then, indicate supporting details using bullet points. This is an easy way of organizing your thoughts and ensuring that your readers will be guided on the flow of your term paper. 

  • Continue to subdivide each supporting topic until your outline is fully developed: 

    More often than not, merely using Roman numerals and bullet points for the outline of your term paper is not enough; you will need to subdivide your topics more until your outline is fully developed. Aside from these two, you might even have to use numbers and letters to continue developing your outline. 

It’s Easy When You Know How 

Writing academic research papers can be tough as you’ll experience several challenges. Some of the most common difficulties students experience when they write academic research papers include checking plagiarism and grammatical errors, dealing with lexical issues, and lack of planning. But when you’re done with it, you can finish your major without any difficulty.

Writing academic research papers is not a walk in the park, but there are countless strategies that can make this process easier, and following the tips in this article is just one. With your commitment and the information presented in this article, writing effective academic research papers will surely become a piece of cake!