Writing Term Papers
THESE ARE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF REGARDING YOUR
WRITING. THEY CAN GUIDE YOU IN THE
REVISION PROCESS WITH TERM AND RESEARCH PAPERS.
Are you writing for a general audience who hasn’t done this research?
Do you need to demonstrate rhetorical and research competence to a reader?
What do you want the reader to do with this research?
Do you supply adequate contexts for technical information?
THESIS STATEMENTS should appear in the first
Is it analytical? OR:
Does it make simplistic pro/con statements?
Does it merely state a fact?
Does the statement make judgments?
If so, could you revise it to specify the judgment? Example: “Socialism is the best form of government for
Kenya.” “BEST” is the
judgment and the general term. Ask
yourself questions: WHY is it the
best form? What will it allow Kenya
to do? Here’s a rewrite:
“If the government takes over industry in Kenya, the industry will
become more efficient.” Try to work with what you have already written.
Does the statement use undefined terms such as socialism?
Where should you define terms? Does
the statement use technical language?
Is the thesis split? Are
there two large statements connected loosely by a coordinate conjunction (and,
but, or, for, nor, so, yet)? Example:
“Terrorism and violence are reprehensible, yet we must use military force in
order to protect our borders.” Would
a subordinate conjunction (through, although, because, since) help to signal a
relationship between the two sentences? Or,
do the two imply an unfocused thesis? Example: “Although terrorism and violence are
reprehensible, we must use military force in order to protect our borders.”
Is the statement from a source? (Is
the thesis statement your own idea, or are you using a quotation from someone
The INTRODUCTION should be short and sweet:
Does the first sentence relate immediately to the issue at hand?
Could you use a different strategy to lead into the thesis (quotation,
allusion, anecdote, definition, comparison)?
OR, have you used an anecdote etc. that simply delays the point or
doesn’t really relate to the point anyway?
Does the introduction work well visually for the paper’s length?
CONCLUSIONS should not simply repeat the thesis
unless it’s a long paper or a particular kind of scientific report.
Compare the paper’s opening and closing-is the last point the best?
Is there an allusion or example in the introduction that could be
referred to in the conclusion?
Check your documentation. ONLY
incontrovertible facts are common knowledge and don’t require citation--Mary
Cassatt was born in 1845; nitrogen makes up 78 percent of the earth’s
atmosphere. Otherwise, have you
§ opinions, judgments, theories, personal explanations?
§ disputable facts, and all statistics relating to human behavior?
Factual information gathered by a small group?
Is the paper a patchwork of quotations?
(Are you stringing together too many ideas and quotations from outside
sources to build your paper instead of developing your own arguments?)
Are you quoting when you should paraphrase or summarize? Are you quoting factual information? Are you quoting interesting views and language?
Is the thesis paragraph clearly stated in the introduction?
Is the pattern or direction recognizable?
What’s the organizing principle? From
concrete to most abstract? Form
least to most important? From the
past to the present or the future? Should
definition of terms or background precede the body?
Or should refutations of arguments precede the argument proper?
Does the conclusion do more than merely restate what the paper has
already said? Does it orient the
reader forward or backward?
Home | Handouts and Worksheets
Advice | Bibliography Formats |
Regents Exam | Videos | Dept. of Writing and Linguistics | GSU | Links | E-mail Us!
This page is maintained by the Georgia
Southern University Writing Center
Please send comments and corrections to the webmaster.
This page last updated on 07/19/2004