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Thesis Term Paper


Thesis, term paper, and dissertation projects have several major principles in common, although each approaches them in a unique way. These principles are idea development, research, and writing.

First, thesis, term paper, and dissertation projects all require the writer to develop an idea that will produce an academically interesting piece of writing. For a term paper, the student often does not have to pursue an entirely original idea; rather, he or she can choose to explore existing ideas in a new and fresh way. However, for thesis and dissertation projects, students should aim to pursue unique ideas that can make a noteworthy contribution to the field of study. In order to do this, students may choose to offer a new nuance in old discussions, to disagree with an axiom or with an authority in the field, or to embark on a completely original idea that the field has not yet considered.

Second, theses, term papers, and dissertations require a great deal of research. Although good term papers use a wide range of research material, the scope of their research usually does not approach the scope that theses and dissertations require, and due to the shorter time frame available for writing a term paper (usually only one semester), students may decide to limit themselves to the sources that are available in the university library or through interlibrary loan. However, for theses and dissertations, students can and should acquire all the research available on their subjects, even if it means going to unusual lengths to obtain that material, and they will probably conduct some of their own primary research, such as running scientific experiments.

Third, students who produce theses, term papers, and dissertations form their ideas and research findings into a coherent written work. While term papers are usually relatively short, writers of dissertations may have to write several hundred pages in order to discuss their ideas adequately. However, no matter how long or short the project, the writer should be careful to balance personal opinion and rhetoric with verifiable evidence or expert opinion.


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