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What Is a Term Paper?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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A term paper is an academic paper that is completed at the end of a semester or school year, also referred to as a school term. It often involves research, but not always. Generally, a term paper is intended to showcase how much the student has learned throughout the school term, and will usually focus on one specific subject of study that was covered during the year.

This type of paper may also be referred to as a research paper. It is generally at least a few pages in length, depending on the subject matter as well as the grade level of the student who is completing the paper. Term papers usually must be typed, and are often double-spaced as well. Each teacher may require different things on the term paper, however. Sometimes a teacher will want students to use a specific style guide when writing the paper, such as the Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) style guide.

To write a term paper, a student will usually need to be presenting an argument in a thesis statement format. Research may then be shown to support the thesis. A term paper does not necessarily need to argue a point, however; some papers are purely informational, and may be focused on a significant event in history, or an important figure in science, politics, or the arts, for example. Sometimes teachers will assign subjects for term papers, and sometimes they will be left to the student's discretion, within certain parameters.

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In some cases, a term paper may be a type of personal reflection completed by the student. This is especially common in earlier grades in school. A student might be assigned to write a paper detailing what he or she learned in his or her favorite subject or class of the year, for instance. This allows students to reflect on the school year and review their subjects while developing their writing skills.

It is always a requirement for a term paper to be the student's own work and writing. Unfortunately, many students plagiarize term papers by taking information off the Internet, or even by purchasing a complete paper online. If the student is caught, he or she will generally receive no credit for the paper, and may face additional punishment. In college, students caught plagiarizing could potentially be kicked out of the class. It is never a good idea to use term papers that can be purchased or found for free online, or to hand in anything that isn't one's own work.

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Mor
Post 3

@Iluviaporos - That's a terrible attitude to take. Kids should be learning how to process and create information, not how to pay someone else to do it for them. If everyone did that we'd all just be circulating the same dozen term papers and pretending they were original.

A term paper is the culmination of an entire semester's work. If you've been paying attention, it should be easy, or even fun. And that's my advice to students and to everyone really. I did my best work in school when I was having fun. Don't think of it as a chore, and it won't be a chore.

Think of it as a chance to show off what you've got. There's something unique about you, something special, and you can show it in everything that you do, including a term paper.

I know that sounds cheesy and it kind of is, but it's also true. If you choose to waste your life by getting other people to have it for you, then you're only cheating yourself.

lluviaporos
Post 2

@bythewell - The real problem is not that they can't catch students doing this. Most teachers will know when a student is cheating on a term paper, since they know the capacity of that student.

But the schools don't really care. They don't have any reason to care, when you think about it, aside from moral obligation. The kids are making an effort to look like they are passing, after all. If they get caught and thrown out, well, that's one less paying student. If they are punished, that adds on administration cost as well.

The world we live in now is a world based around looking things up online, instant information gratification. To some extent I think learning to figure out how to get term paper help is the more valuable skill than writing the thing itself.

bythewell
Post 1

I recently read an article which claimed that plagiarism is rampant in both high schools and universities to the point where kids are at a disadvantage if they don't cheat.

I know for a fact that there are plenty of places online where you can just buy a term paper on any subject for a relatively cheap fee, well within the budget of a large percentage of students. The paper won't be traceable because it will be original work, it just won't be the work of the student who was supposed to do it. They outsource to writers around the world. The paper might not be perfect, but the student won't have to spend time and effort on it at all.

It's pretty shocking and sad really that this is so common, but unfortunately there's not much the schools can do about it.

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