Types of Term Papers

00:00 Jan 01

A term paper is an academic paper, which is submitted at the end of school/college course term—and a good tool for teachers to assess how much knowledge a student has gained over the period of a specific term/semester. Term papers are important because they play a major role in increasing or decreasing students' final grade. Term papers generally require in-depth research.

1. Research Paper

A research paper is the most common type of term papers. Most students mistakenly assume that term papers and research papers are two distinct academic papers having different procedure and characteristics. This is absolutely wrong—because the name "term paper" is merely used to define a paper that is submitted at the end of a term or semester. So a research paper can be a term paper—if assigned to students for a specific term or semester. So we can say "a research paper is a type of term papers." Writing research papers requires the student to choose a specific topic that he/she studied in class and write a detailed paper. When writing research papers, primary and secondary sources are crucial—as you have to extensively use them for data collection. Primary source is your subject material while secondary source is the data outside your academic/subject material—which includes related literature/material published in journals, newspapers, websites, etc. Doing a "thorough research" is key to preparing an attention-grabbing paper. Most students rely on secondary source to prepare their papers rather than burying their head in academic books—because they think they can get instant, exact material for their subject "at one place" thanks to the comforts of the Internet. But using Internet for information/material collection is fraught with many risks. The biggest risk the student may run while searching the Internet for information is acquiring "wrong information." There is heaps of material available on the net—though most of it is accurate—you should know—but a considerable amount of "cheap material" is being circulated misinforming students. So be careful and check the authenticity of material. Synthesis Paper A synthesis term paper is more or less similar to research papers, which requires the students to combine some or all of the works they have studied in class during a specific semester/term. A synthesis paper is typically more holistic than a research paper—because it focuses on generalities—instead of dealing with a specific topic like a research paper. Moreover, a synthesis paper often requires the students to rely on the sources they study in class i.e. prescribed books/literatures (primary source) instead of secondary sources that the research paper allows. The student is expected to form his/her own viewpoint/discourse. A synthesis paper is mostly common in interdisciplinary classes.