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A term paper is a research paper written by students over an academic term, accounting for a large part of a grade. Merriam-Webster defines it as "a major written assignment in a school or college course representative of a student's achievement during a term". Term papers are generally intended to describe an event, a concept, or argue a point. It is a written original work discussing a topic in detail, usually several typed pages in length, and is often due at the end of a semester.
There is much overlap between the terms: research paper and term paper. A term paper was originally a written assignment (usually a research based paper) that was due at the end of the "term"—either a semester or quarter, depending on which unit of measure a school used. However, not all term papers involve academic research, and not all research papers are term papers.
Term papers date back to the beginning of the 19th century when print could be reproduced cheaply and written texts of all types (reports, memoranda, specifications, and scholarly articles) could be easily produced and disseminated. Moulton and Holmes (2003) write that during the years from 1870 to 1900 "American education was transformed as writing became a method of discourse and research the hallmark of learning."
Plagiarism in the computer era
In the present day an entire industry has sprung up to provide plagiarized, pre-written or custom written term papers for students of varying levels of education. There are many websites that sell term papers of all levels of quality and writing proficiency, but submission of a purchased paper would be considered a serious breach of the submitting student's academic integrity by any reputable academic institution. Also, plagiarism can be unknowingly committed by students. Although plagiarism can be unknowingly committed there are quite a few steps that can be taken in order to avoid plagiarizing. When quoting another author's work, place quotation marks around the words or sentence that you take from that work, and use a footnote, end-note, or in-line citation to give credit to the original source. Merely changing a few words is not the same as true summarizing, and use of such a minorly-modified passage is still considered plagiarism unless a citation gives credit to the source.
- "Definition of TERM PAPER". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
- Moulton, Margaret R. and Holmes, Vicki L (2003) "The Research Paper: A Historical Perspective," Teaching English in the Two Year College 30(4) p.366
- Russell, David R. Writing in the Academic Disciplines, 1870–1990: A Curricular History. Southern Illinois University, 1991. p.87-8
- "BBC NEWS | Education | Google bans essay writing adverts". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Crawford, Miki (29 September 2010). "Are You Committing Plagiarism? Top Five Overlooked Citations to Add to Your Course Materials". FacultyFocus.com. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Anne, Ackley, Katherine (5 October 2016). Perspectives on contemporary issues : readings across the disciplines (Eighth ed.). Boston. ISBN 9781305969377. OCLC 967940184.