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❶Topic Selection Depending on the subject being studied, students can choose excellent topics on which to base a term paper to demonstrate how well they have understood the work or research covered during the term.

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Plan backward from the date the paper is due to allow plenty of time to get it done. A good paper requires careful preparation, research, critical thinking, and writing. These steps take time. Also, allow time for the unexpected.

Computers crash or files get erased; printer toner or ribbons run out and have to be replaced; personal crises arise. You need to be able to cope with these and still get the paper done on time. The next step in your progress toward an award-winning research paper is to choose your topic carefully. If you are responsible for choosing your own topic, put some thought into this decision.

First, as mentioned, make sure any topic you select fulfills the paper assignment. Second, if possible pick a topic that interests you. The more interested you are in a topic, the easier it will be for you to devote time and energy to studying it and to writing about it. Third, ensure that you select a topic that fits the length of the paper that you intend to write, the research resources that are available to you, and your analytical tools.

Two Centuries of Constitutional Conflict," then your paper is destined to be "a mile wide and an inch deep," as they say. It is better to do something more narrowly focused and to do it well than to give a superficial treatment of a large subject. Trying to write a paper on "Secret Military Operations in the Persian Gulf War" would also be a mistake because the government has not released the relevant information.

You should take the holdings of your library into account. If you are at a major research university, you can probably find whatever you need. Even at large libraries, however, you may have trouble finding good sources to support a research paper on U.

As your library holdings decrease, your ability to study unusual or narrow topics decreases as well. So be careful not to choose a topic that destines you to fail.

If you are going to pick a topic such as "The Use by the Federal Reserve of the Discount Rate to Influence Monetary Relations," then you had better be sure you have the background to understand the complexities that you will encounter. For all of these issues, rule number 1 here and throughout this writing guide is check with the instructor if there is any doubt in your mind.

Indeed, it is a very good idea to write a paragraph on what you intend to analyze, show it to the professor, and get his or her reaction. Now the project begins in earnest. Good research is the foundation of your paper. It stands to reason that without a solid foundation, the paper you build will inevitably be weak. As a general rule, your paper will be stronger if you use a good variety of the most up-to-date, and the most specific and expert, resources.

The place to do research is the library. Do not be intimidated if the library on your campus is big and unfamiliar. Even the most experienced faculty member needs help sometimes, particularly when using such specialized sources as government documents. The good news is that assistance is readily available. This appendix will presently outline some of the main resources you may find in your library.

When you get lost, as we all do, ask the nearest librarian for help. Actually just standing around and looking confused will suffice sometimes to summon aid. When you are doing your research it is important to be creative. Here are a few tips:. Start out by reading a general study or two on your subject. This will give you a broad grasp of your topic and will help you identify what is important and on what you need to focus your research.

Simply jumping in and beginning to do research in specialized studies can often waste a considerable amount of your time. Textbooks can also be helpful. For many topics, one starting point might be a U. A general introduction to international relations such as International Politics on the World Stage Rourke, might also prove helpful to gain an overview of a topic.

Treat research like a detective story. Search under a variety of subject headings when looking for sources in the physical or computerized card catalog, in an index, or any other finding aid. If, for example, you are doing a paper on Vietnam, do not limit yourself to looking under "V" for Vietnam.

Look at the most recent books and journal articles first. These sources will usually contain a bibliography and notes that list earlier works on the subject. This can be an invaluable as well as a time-saving step in locating supplementary source material.

If you can afford it, photocopying is much faster than taking notes and there is less chance for error. If you take written notes, use index cards. Larger cards are better than smaller ones. Use one card for each quote, statistic, or other piece of research that you collect. Cards work well because they can be arranged easily. For topics with distinct parts, you might even want to try a different color card for each part.

Some people use portable computers to take notes. If you do, be sure to make a backup copy on a floppy disk. Make a careful and complete notation of the source of your material. Later on we will cover why and how to cite material, but there is nothing more frustrating than having to go back to the library to look up a citation that you should have noted clearly and completely in the first place. Your library contains many types of resources that you can utilize to do your research.

The following list is a mere beginning. Use it, but also go to your library, wander about a bit looking at its various sections and the resources that each contains, and ask librarians about what is available. You may be surprised at how many resources you discover.

One of the most important places in your library is the reference room. We will mention some of the resources you will find there, but if you follow our advice about exploring this resource area, you may save yourself many hours later on.

The materials in the reference room are valuable resources for beginning to structure the basic outline of your topic. Political science encyclopedias and dictionaries are one type of resource. For an American foreign policy course you might wish to look at sources such as the Dictionary of American Diplomatic History Findling, or, at the most general level of political science, you might wish to consult The Encyclopedic Dictionary of American Government Dushkin, There are similar works, such as The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World Krieger, , that are global in scope.

Then there are resources such as Editorial Research Reports , the Political Handbook of the World , or the Index to International Public Opinion that deal with particular topics, give summaries of various governments, or take other specialized approaches.

Such works are normally acceptable sources; general-purpose encyclopedias such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica , the World Book , etc. Weekly updates come in the form of the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Reports. Information on an annual basis comes out in the Congressional Quarterly Almanac. Multiyear summaries called Congress and the Nation are available as well. These contain the basics of most U. Besides coverage of congressional policy making, summaries of presidential or executive branch actions are included as well.

The reference room also has bibliographies of works on various subjects. These are classified under "Z. They may save you time. A good place to start is with the Library of Congress Subject Headings for ways to cross-reference your search for books. In the Library of Congress system, most U. For economics, look at H; for world history, consult books under D. The letter J encompasses most works on political science.

As subsets, the letters JK focus on U. Military affairs are under U. It is valuable to know these letters because sometimes it is worthwhile to simply go to the stacks where those letters are shelved and browse a bit to uncover resources that you may have missed in your computer or card catalog search. The shelves in the reference room are partly arranged using the Library of Congress system. Older books are also sometimes catalogued under the Dewey decimal system with the s and s of especial relevance to political science and history.

Some topics, like U. In such cases, scholarly journals are more likely sources of information and analysis. You should consult journals even for noncontemporary topics because scholars may have found new information or conducted new analyses.

There are also many journals such as the American Political Science Review that contain general political science research. You may also find valuable information that has been published in a report of a governmental agency, in hearings or reports of a congressional committee, or in the transcripts of the proceedings of Congress. The United Nations and a number of other international organizations also publish proceedings and reports. There are several indexes available.

Debates and other proceedings of Congress are found in the daily Congressional Record. At some schools, accessing government documents can be a challenge.

See your reference librarians for help with government publications. If you are covering a current topic or need to have a day-by-day account of events and cannot find one elsewhere, you may be forced to turn to newsmagazines and newspapers. Be sure, however, to check with your instructor to ensure that these are considered acceptable sources for your assignment. Mostly they are useful for facts or for contemporary quotes and are usually not good sources of analysis.

Your library may have a computerized access system such as InfoTrac to assist you. Some are now available on CD-ROM, allowing you to use the computer to search by subject and then print out the relevant stories.

See the reference librarians for help with such resources. Over the past few years it has become increasingly easy to find research information by using the Internet. Until recently the Gopher system of data archives was the dominant form of Internet information access, but now most governmental and nongovernmental organizations, universities, and even many businesses have developed access to their research resources over the graphic environment on the World Wide Web.

The following are a number of Web sites that will get you started in searching for information you may need in writing your research paper.

Although some of the Uniform Resource Locators URL listed below are for specific information sources, most provide you with "hot-linked" lists that will get you to where you might want to look for information. It is important to note that URLs change frequently. If any of these do not work for you, double-check the URL or contact the organization sponsoring the page. Our listing here can only begin to cover what is in your library.

There may be a map room. There may also be an audio-visual section. Some libraries contain archives or a rare book collection. Talk to a librarian or your professor for added information. Also realize that no library has everything. Consequently, you may find references to sources that are not found in your library. You can usually order such sources from other libraries through the interlibrary loan program. Check with your reference librarians to learn how to use this service. Be advised, however, that interlibrary loans take some time.

So order any needed sources as early as possible. Knowledge is not confined to libraries or even campuses. A surprising number of students know someone who knows something about the specifics of some U. Even if you do not know someone personally, you might find it interesting and possible to conduct an interview with a decision maker or some other relevant person. Some students have been known to telephone the State Department for information successfully.

Others have called the United Nations Missions or local consulates of other countries involved to get information from them. For advice on unconventional sources, see your instructor. The keys to effective papers are good organization and presentation of ideas and error-free technical skills.

There are a number of sources that you can access to help you both organize and write your paper. Our comments on writing a paper that follow may prove helpful to you, but they are not substitutes for the fuller discussions you will find in these writing guides. There are three organizational issues to consider. They are the outline, the parts of the paper, and the approach.

No one would think of building a house, computer, or other important and complex project without a plan. Students regularly write papers without a plan. As a result, poor organization is a common weakness of undergraduate term papers. The best way to construct your plan and to organize information for maximum effect is to put together an outline. Determine what you wish to accomplish in the paper; then prepare an outline specifying every step from Introduction to Conclusion.

Linear writing is crucial in professional papers and reports. A good outline also serves to help you later: It ensures that you stay on track, write an accurate summary for your conclusions, and cover all of the relevant information and arguments. All papers should have three basic parts: The introduction is the key to letting your reader know where you are headed and what you will accomplish.

Remember always that while the organization of your paper may be clear to you, it is not clear to your reader. Therefore, the introduction is something like a road map that acquaints the reader with the journey ahead. Tell the reader in concise terms 1 what the subject of the paper is, 2 what it is that you hope to find out, and 3 how you will go about it.

If you are writing an advanced, theoretical paper, your introduction might well also include a review of the existing scholarship on the subject, a section in which you identify how you collected your data and other information, and a discussion of the methodology you will use.

Wolfinger is a guide for such advanced papers. The main body is the largest part of the paper. It should have a logical organization. Especially if the paper is long, it is often a good idea to divide the main body into sections designated by headings and subheadings.

Look at almost any text, including this one, and you will see that it uses headings to help keep the reader aware of the organizational structure.

Also with regard to your main body, do not assume knowledge on the part of the reader. Include all important information, explain its significance, and detail your logic. Write your paper as though its reader will be a reasonably intelligent and informed person but not an expert on your topic. Your instructor wants to know what you know and will not "read into" the paper information that is not there.

The conclusion should sum up what you have found and stress the evidence that supports your analysis. There is something very human about wanting to have things summed up, so do not leave your reader hanging without a conclusion.

There are several ways to approach your paper. A common organizational approach is a chronological one. The advantage of this approach is that it uses the passage of time as its organizing mechanism. The disadvantage of a chronological approach is that it can easily become a "laundry list" of events, both important and unimportant. Students often list everything they find, leaving it to the reader to determine which factors are most important.

Chronologies are also no substitute for analysis. There is nothing wrong with a chronological approach if it is done well; just be sure to put more emphasis throughout on why things happened than on what happened. A more analytic approach would be organized around a set of factors, or variables, that are important to the subject of the paper. Theoretical approaches can also be used to organize a paper. Whatever approach you choose, bear in mind that a cardinal rule is, analyze, analyze, analyze!

Summarizing your findings in the conclusion does not mean that this is the only place to put "you" in the paper. Your analysis should appear throughout the paper.

A big error that many novice writers make is to use the main body of the paper to create a heap of facts and to wait until the conclusion to say what they mean. This approach is boring and will not impress your readers with your analytical ability. The best papers by far are those that draw data, events, and other material together and interpret them throughout.

Besides organization, the other hallmark of a good paper is clarity in writing. Remember that if a paper fails to communicate well, then its research-no matter how well done--will have little impact. There is an old piece of advice that says, "write like you speak. Good written communication is somewhat different from good spoken communication.

When you speak to someone, especially face to face, you can convey meaning through voice inflection, gestures, and other methods in addition to your words. These methods are not available in written communications. Therefore, choice of words, punctuation, and other considerations are particularly vital when you write. Good writing can be divided into three parts: Thomas Alva Edison once supposedly commented that "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Writing and polishing drafts of a paper take time and effort. They cannot be done the night before the paper is due. If you sit down at your word processor the night before your report is due and write it into the wee hours of the morning, you will almost certainly leave your reader as bleary-eyed when he or she reads the paper as you were when you wrote it.

Two things to do are to write drafts and to get others to read your paper. Write a draft, preferably more than one. No professional writer would dream of sending a manuscript out for review or to press without writing multiple drafts.

Indeed, the more one writes, the more one feels the need to do drafts. Only undergraduates have the hubris to keyboard a paper into the computer, print a copy out, hand it in, and wait confidently for that rave review and an "A" grade from the instructor.

A better idea is to write a first draft. Note here that the adjective "rough" does not precede "draft.

Once your smooth draft is done, put it aside for a few days so that you can gain perspective. You may be surprised at how many ways you find to improve what you have written when you look at it with "fresh eyes.

There are many people who can help you write a first-rate paper. One person is your instructor. Discuss your topic and your ideas with your professor. Submit drafts to your professor far enough ahead of the deadline to give the instructor time to suggest revisions. At this point, you really need to call or email your supervisor. Your professor will have seen hundreds of term papers like yours i. He or she will tell you what literature you have omitted, offer suggestions about what you should read, and give you feedback about your paper.

It may well be that your approach has already occurred to somebody else, in which case there is no need to repeat it. When you choose your topic, make sure you choose something that you are interested in. That might be sophisticated, but why not? If you decide to investigate a topic or a problem that you are pretty familiar with, your writing will be more fluid.

You will focus your attention on a specific aspect of the chosen field and expand your knowledge within that scope. On the contrary, choosing an unfamiliar subject matter can wash out your expertise. By doing this, you will be able to choose the best version, which may not be the one you started with at all!

Writing a proper thesis statement can also be challenging. You will probably find that one idea fits your style, interests, and knowledge base: Remember that the thesis statement is the skeleton, the central concept of your paper. If you do a thorough job on it, you will find that writing and defending!

Be aware that all of these stages are parts of a procedure — one leads to another. When writing a term paper, you should collect the material and wrap it up at the same time. Some people claim that they can write a term paper without any planning. In our opinion, this is impossible. It may come as a surprise, but even people who claim otherwise actually prepare outlines — in their heads. Get professional help with our custom writing service!

Understand that your aim is to create an excellent term paper and keep working at it until you are satisfied. In the Introduction , state the topic that you are going to investigate and the context of your work. In a nutshell, your introduction combined with a conclusion should give a sneak peek into what the whole paper is about.

If your introduction is well-prepared, it will be quite complacent about the body of your project. The introduction must include an abstract that presents your thesis statement. You should explain your motivation why should the reader be concerned about this problem? The Literature Review totally corresponds to its name — it is here to review the literature you compiled.

Your professor will double check it to make sure that you understand the context of your argument. One more thing to add is: Ideally, you should read or at least glance through every book and author that you can find on the topic. Think of your task as a fascinating journey: In the Discussion , you must present the interpretations of the problem. This section connects the dots between theory and practice when writing a term paper. Wherever possible, provide several interpretations of the subject matter, then choose the one s that are most relevant to the case you are presenting.

In the Body , focus on those arguments that prove your thesis statement. This section must be absolutely logical. If you have chosen a more complicated topic, use heading and sub-headings to improve the appearance of this section. While writing the body, keep your target audience your professors in mind. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the details and you will stun your readers with the prolific mastery of the topic.

The most challenging part is not to make it too dry. Reiterate your thesis statement and briefly show how your results justified your proposition. At the very end, you can suggest a call to action or pose a rhetorical question or statement that leaves your reader wanting more. When you have finished, reread your work a couple of times. You will almost certainly find a few faults, whether they are contextual, factual, syntactical, grammatical, or even simple spelling mistakes.

A very useful tip is to wait for two or three days after writing your term paper to proofread it afterward. When proofreading, take care to polish the structural problems. The skeleton the logic and the thesis statement should make sense. The changes may take some time, but bear in mind that your objective is to produce a professional work. After that, print the term paper.

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Before researching and writing, you should know what a term paper proposal is. Basically, you should be able to defend your topic to your instructor through this proposal. This proposal must be handed in and approved before writing the actual term paper.

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A good term paper takes more than a little research. It requires planning, time management and excellent writing skills. With the right preparation, your essay will land you excellent marks.

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Writing term papers is a great opportunity for students to learn more about the subject they are studying. There are no doubts, term papers demand a lot of patience and knowledge. There are no doubts, term papers demand a lot of patience and knowledge. To write an outstanding college term paper, you must understand that your professor has requested it in order to test your analytical thinking skills. You must collect relevant data, analyze it, and then make a .