How to Type a Term Paper

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This document is under development. Input and suggestions for improvement are welcomed by at this address. This revision: 1997.

Your Obligation to the Reader.
The author of a book or paper has an obligation to give the reader something beyond what the reader could obtain directly from the source materials. These services to the reader may include:

Research and investigate. Seek out obscure and hard-to-find material, and unify it into a clear presentation.
Synthesize. Draw together diverse things to show patterns and relations.
Organize. Give logical continuity and structure to diverse materials.
Analyze. Provide critical analysis in which arguments are examined for evidence, validity, logic, and flaws.
Clarify. Make evidence and arguments clearer to the reader. Elucidate difficult material.
Examine in a broader context. Show how a specific subject fits into a broader context, relates to another field, or relates to historic precedents.
Select and distill. Weed out fluff and irrelevancies to get at the main issues of a complex subject.
Adopt a point of view. Show how the preponderance of evidence and reason favors one side in a controversial issue.
Research Materials
Before sitting down to write you must have ideas, a plan in mind and genuine understanding to communicate. That comes from reading everything you can get your hands on related to your subject. How much? Well, I'd feel a bit insecure writing about anything until I'd digested and understood anywhere from one to two dozen solid references. I'd probably have looked at or skimmed 50 to 100, but not all of them would end up specifically referenced. Many have no relevant material, or nothing unique, not found in the other references. Some are useful only to lead to better sources.
I'd also want to have read all the reviews I could find of the major reference books I intend to use.…...

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