What to Avoid when Writing a Term Paper

The blank page. Woe, the dread. However, it may not be as dreadful as you think…especially if you are a college professor. In fact, sometimes the filled page is more dreadful than the blank one. There are several ways to write a good paper, but there are also several ways not to write one. Unfortunately, the ties get crossed very often, causing for more red ink and head aches than any one bargained for. However, by following a few guidelines, you can be on your way to flipping your grade to the up side and turning that bleak page of dread into a dazzling space for opportunity.

1) Brainstorm, and Make a List

The first thing you want to do is sit down with a pad of paper and a pencil and quickly jot down anything that comes to mind on your subject. Anything. Just be sure not to think about it…you want your first impulses, here. Write them down, make a list, then when you feel your brainstorming capabilities have come to an end, go ahead and put your pencil down. Now take your list, and throw it away.

The first thoughts that came to your mind probably came to the minds of nearly every other student in your class that is writing the same or similar term paper. The idea is not to swamp the Professor, but to inspire him or her. To do this, you need a fresh angle to tackle your paper with. By tossing the list you made earlier of the more simple ideas, you have opened up your mind to new ideas, and got it jogging.

2) Think it, Speak it, Write it

Delve deeper into your thoughts, go ahead and get some coffee if you need some. By thinking about a subject, often times, you are eventually led to other thoughts-like branches that wind deeper and deeper into your subject. Speak it out if you need to, talk out your thoughts. Then write all this down-but let your hand fly. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, the idea is not to go back and read what you’ve written, but to get your mind running down another path. Often times, when you get thinking about something-really thinking about it-it leads to another train of thought that is related. Like digging in the sand. You never reach the end, new things always fall in. Here is where the uniqueness of a paper comes in. No two minds are alike. When allowed to wander, they will never end up at the same destination.

3) Keep out the Simple Stuff

If you’re writing a report on dog psychology, you can keep out the facts that dogs are small to medium sized animals with fur ranging from cream to earthy tones, and usually prefer pizza over dog food. All that is irrelevant. And if you’re writing a paper debating on what to do with the homeless in San Diego, if you’re talking to the people of San Diego, you can probably do without adding that San Diego is a large city in Southern CA that lies along the coast. No. They probably already know that.

4) Dont Slack on your Introduction and Conclusion

The introduction is what draws your readers in, if its not very interesting, you’re not going to have very many readers sticking it out through the entire paper. Make sure it’s a good one! Add some emotion, flick in a bit of your own uniqueness to make it stand out. You want people to remember it, and for the same reason, make you’re conclusion a knock-out as well. Toward the end of the essay, we tend to get a bit tired of it and just try to hurry through the conclusion just to get it finished. Don’t do this, take a break if you need to. Readers tend to remember best what they have last read-so if your conclusion is a dud but the rest of your paper was great, they’re more apt to remembering the dullness lagging at the end. If it were in reverse, your paper was alright, but your conclusion left them gasping for breath-they are going to remember it.