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How to Write a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.

Start the Research Process

Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.

Develop Your Thesis Statement

When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.

Create an Outline

Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.

Organize Your Notes

When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.

Write Your Final Draft

After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.


how to write a term paper englisches seminar 2

University of Cologne

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Faculty of Arts and Humanities Department of English II

Informationen zu schriftlichen hausarbeiten (map).

Für das Verfassen schriftlicher Hausarbeiten als Modulabschlussprüfungen (MAP) im Rahmen Ihres Studiums am Englischen Seminar II gilt in jedem Fall unser  "How to Write a Term Paper" Leitfaden als Grundlage.

Der Leitfaden dient unter Anderem der Vermittlung 

der einer Hausarbeit zugrundeliegenden Standards und Kriterien wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens 

der formalen Kriterien für das Verfassen einer Hausarbeit am Englischen Seminar II

wichtiger Hinweise zu Themenfindung und Literaturrecherche

Es wird von Ihnen erwartet, dass Sie in der Kommunikation mit den Lehrenden über mögliche Hausarbeitsthemen, spätestens aber zu Beginn des tatsächlichen Arbeitsprozesses mit den Vorgaben des Leitfadens vertraut sind. Sollten Sie von den dortigen Vorgaben abweichen wollen (etwa bezüglich des Zitierstils), so muss dies unbedingt mit der Ihre Arbeit betreuenden Lehrperson abgesprochen werden.

Informationen zu Abschlussarbeiten (Bachelor-/Masterarbeiten)

Grundsätzlich gelten auch für Bachelor- und Masterarbeiten die Vorgaben des obigen Leitfadens.

WICHTIG:    Die Abgabe der Bachelorarbeit erfolgt ausschließlich digital. Zur Abgabe laden Sie die Arbeit digital in Sciebo hoch. Diesen hochschuleigenen Cloud-Speicherdienst können Studierende der Uni Köln kostenfrei nutzen. Bachelorarbeiten in gedruckter Form oder auf CD-Rom kann das ZfL-Prüfungsamt weder in Empfang nehmen noch zur Begutachtung weiterleiten. Alle näheren Informationen hierzu finden Sie auf der folgenden ZfL-Seite:

Darüber hinaus finden Sie in unseren  Richtlinien für das Verfassen von Abschlussarbeiten wichtige ergänzende Informationen, die sich speziell auf das Verfassen von Bachelor- und Masterarbeiten sowie das entsprechenden Anmelde- und Zulassungsverfahren beziehen. 


Die Eigenständigkeitserklärung muss jeder schriftlichen Hausarbeit beiliegen. Sie wird allerdings nicht mehr an die Hausarbeit angehangen, sondern ist als separates Formular vollständig ausgefüllt und unterschrieben einzureichen. 

how to write a term paper englisches seminar 2

Internal Guidelines

General information concerning some formal aspects of research papers:

  • Length: Term papers: B.A. courses: 3,000 - 3,500 words M.A. courses: 5,000 - 6,000 words Final papers: B.A. theses: 12,000 words M.A. theses: 15,000 - 16,000 words For students who started their B.A. in  WS 2011/12 or later , the length of papers has been included in the module description. Please check your module descriptions for relevant word numbers.
  • Deadline  for term papers: generally, four weeks after the teaching period ends; the details will be communicated in class and in many case uploaded to Learnweb. Detailed information  here
  • Extensions Please note that there can be no individual extensions to the deadline for your term paper unless you provide a sick note from your doctor. In case you miss the first deadline and thereby fail your first attempt, you will have two more opportunities to submit your paper on the same topic (or another one) in the context of the same seminar. The second deadline (near the beginning of the subsequent semester) will be communicated to QISPOS-registered participants who did not pass their first attempt.
  • Please pay particular attention to the leaflets "How to write a  Hausarbeit  - some guidelines" and "Information concerning the MLA stylesheet" (see below)

How to write a Hausarbeit - some guidelines

PDF (German) PDF (English)

Information concerning the MLA stylesheet, download this   PDF , and follow this link .

External Guidelines

1. external guidelines to academic writing. Guidelines/training centre for papers (in German)

2. Online dictionaries

Oxford English Dictionary Comprehensive historical dictionary of the English language Merriam Webster Online Dictionary Comprehensive dictionary of American English

How to use quotations

For a guideline please download one of the following documents:

PDF (slightly more detailed version in German) PDF (shorter version in English)

Wissenschaftliches Fehlverhalten in Pro- und Hauptseminaren: Das Plagiat

Plagiat ist eine Form des geistigen Diebstahls und führt zu ernsthaften Sanktionen. Das Wesen des Plagiats besteht darin, wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse, Hypothesen, Ideen oder Formulierungen Anderer als eigene auszugeben. Eine unbefugte Verwertung unter Anmaßung der Autorschaft besteht dann, wenn die jeweilige Quellenangabe (Name des Autors / der Autorin und weiterer sachbezogener Informationen wie Titel der Arbeit, Erscheinungsort und -datum, Seitenzahl) unterbleibt.

Download form to be attached to written assignments

how to write a term paper englisches seminar 2


Academic Writing Practice

Course information.



It’s common for students to think of academic writing as intimidating, boring, or both. In this class, we will simplify the process of academic writing (and even try to make it fun). Through this basic overview, which pertains to the key points and skills involved in academic writing, we will focus on writing structure; the difference between summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation; primary vs. secondary sources; citing sources; plagiarism and how to avoid it; register; and the role of the author’s voice in academic writing. Course activities include a focus on reading comprehension and critical discussion of texts, sentence-level writing practice, and writing of short academic texts.

You can find the course on HISinOne . Depending on your study program, it can count towards the following modules:

  • M.Ed.-Cert. – Sprachkompetenz Vertiefung
  • MiBNACS – M5
  • MELLing – M7
  • B.A. major – M13, M14, M15
  • 2-HF-B – Sprachkompetenz Vertiefung
  • Erasmus & International students – Elective in Advanced Language Practice

Summer School 2022 | Academic Reading & Writing

Dieses außercurriculare Angebot wurde durch das Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg (MWK) zum Abbau pandemiebedingter Lernrückstände ermöglicht: "Land fördert Abbau von Lernrückständen bei Studierenden (07.02.2022)"

Online Resources

No time to take the course any time soon? Here is a list of helpful online resources:

YouTube Tutorials | Specific writing skills explained with examples & exercises

  • Demarcations

Websites on Academic Writing

  • Harvard College Writing Center | Strategies for essay writing
  • "A Brief Guide to the Elements of the Academic Essay" by Gordon Harvey | Harvard College Writing Program
  • Avoiding Plagiarism | Harvard Extension School
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) | Support for essays & term papers
  • Glossary of Essay Terms
  • A Beginner's Guide to Writing in English for University Study | University of Reading
  • English for the Workplace | British Council
  • Literature of the English Country House | University of Sheffield
  • Study Skills for International Students | University of East Anglia

Help with Referencing, Citation Management, Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Google Scholar Search Engine  → Add filetype:pdf to your search query to look for PDFs only
  • Citavi & Zotero  | Reference management software (with university software license)
  • Harvard Guide to Using Sources
  • Academic Integrity: Values, Skills, Action  | University of Auckland


  1. How to Write a Term Paper: Structure, Example and Format?

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  3. How to Write a Research Paper

    Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.

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  10. Guidelines for Writing a Term Paper in English or American Literature

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    | Support for essays & term papers; Glossary of Essay Terms 9. MOOCs. A