How to write academic term papers: 


Academic writing has been considered one of the most significant means through which an individual acquires and presents knowledge and skills in the area of expertise. Some of the academic papers that students are required to write include essays, thesis papers, and seminar papers. In writing these papers, an individual not only has to apply the literary and cultural theories and methods, but also develop skills that necessitates clinical analysis of texts, processes information, and reports the research. Academic writing is normally directed to specific audience, and it follows rules and conventions defined by the academic institution or the audience. The content of the academic papers should be precise and concise in order to meet the requirements and expectations of the readers. The sources used to write the paper should be identified clearly, should be recent, and unambiguous (Hall, 2012). The guideline below outlines the standard structure, and requirements of the academic papers.

Forms of Writing

Academic papers should be written either as seminar papers or essays, and they follow the same guidelines and regulations. Both the essay and the seminar paper should collect, organize and present ideas in an analytical manner basing on the aspect of primary text. The topic or theme to be analyzed should be limited, and the ideas provided should be coherent in order, and clearly reasoned. However, distinct features differentiate between an essay and a seminar paper. First, seminar paper is usually longer (3500-9000 words) than an essay (1000-4000 words). Secondly, an essay enables the writer to develop analytical and argumentative skills basing on the focused research question, while seminar paper takes into account the development of a topic and analyzing it basing on the existing research information. Both of these forms require organization of ideas in a coherent manner to suit the audience and the sources should be reliable. Unlike writing an essay, a seminar paper contains a table of contents and the body part is organized in subsections (Hall, 2012).

Undertaking Research

Before commencing on drafting an academic paper, one should gather ideas and information on the subject matter or topic of study. Though distinct steps are available when doing research, the process is nor perfectly linear. For instance, you may require redefining the research question when the paper develops. You need to define a topic and a research question to enhance the efficacy of your paper.

a)      Working with sources

Your research and writing depend on a careful selection and use of sources. The sources should be recognized either online or print. Sources that do not follow the same standards of research should be avoided. There are three main types of sources to be used;

ü  Primary Sources—are the main texts to be analyzed such as films, poems, short stories, or novels.

ü  Secondary Sources—scholarly articles or journals that are published and deals with primary sources and methodology of analysis

ü  Tertiary Sources— this includes dictionaries of literary terms and specialized encyclopedias, and they are highlighted at the beginning stages of your research.

b)     Selecting Reliable Sources

Non-scholarly web sites and encyclopedias should be avoided. Your research is only as good as your use of sources. With the growth in online academic sources, careful analysis of the sources should be done in order to ascertain their suitability with your work. Carefully select and spend some of your time in analyzing the sources rather than selecting numerous websites with scanty information.

c)      Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic ethics, regardless of the copyright status of the information used. Whether paraphrasing or copying a sentence of an entire essay written by somebody else leads to academic stealing of ideas. Plagiarized paper normally leads to being rejected or facing legal action. In order to avoid unintentional plagiarism, sources should be cited, and one should familiarize with ways of avoiding plagiarism available online.

Writing Your Academic Paper: Structure

Writing an academic paper—whether an essay or seminar paper—contains the same building blocks: Introduction, body part, conclusions, and bibliography list (Levin, 2009). The distinction between the two, as highlighted above, is that seminar paper contains subsections while essay is in prose-form.

a)      Introduction

The logic and topic in the introductory statement should revolve around a guiding question or a single issue. It must contextualize the clearly provide a coherent explanation to the guiding question. It should also specify the conditions that should be followed when answering the question. The basic rule provides that the introduction should be one-tenth of your paper. It is important that you provide a thesis statement at the end of the introduction. Make sure that the introduction is easy to understand and there are no apparent contradictions.

b)     Main (Body) Part

The body part provides the argument that answers your research question and supports the main claim. Scholarly literature should be incorporated into the paper at this stage and visual texts can also be used. The statements should be in-depth, consistent, and coherent. In the case of a seminar paper, thematic sub-headings should be included; this is not the case with an essay. A clear structure of providing the arguments is crucial: thoughts should be developed logically, there should be a connection between thoughts in an orderly and systematic manner, and the ideas provided should have a sequence. Make sure to develop conclusion for the primary sources analyzed, and it should be done without any form of contradiction. The sources should be in-text cited where relevant.

c)      Conclusion

The conclusion should provide a summary of the ideas analyzed and the results realized from the study. In addition, you may provide other ideas that are not succinctly analyzed in the paper, but may need further clarification in a larger context. Ideally, the conclusion should commence with reformulation of the main claim and provide an analysis that responded to the research question. Like introduction, it should not be longer than one-tenth of your paper.

d)     Bibliography

The list of bibliography should contain the information of all primary, secondary, and tertiary sources cited in your paper. As such, each of the sources used in the paper should appear in the bibliography section. The sources should be arranged in alphabetical order, and should commence with the authors’ last names (APA Style). Check formatting and referencing styles on





Hall, G. M. (2012). How to write a paper, London: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from <>

Levin, P. (2009). Write Great Essays! New York: McGraw-Hill International. Retrieved from <>