The professor passes out the term paper prompt. You glance at the requirements, cue the heart palpitations. What to write?
Writing essays is a means for you to demonstrate knowledge of the course and to engage in the learning process. What if the paper is for a General Ed course that falls outside the bounds of your major (and comfort zone)? Link the ideas from the General Ed course to your major. By making connections between subjects you will enhance your work, ease the stress of research, and construct a paper that interests you. In fact, most university course subjects are not independent of each other but rather topics that imply and/or depend on each other.
For example, if you are a Science major in need of ideas for a History term paper, then research scientific advancements that impacted the historical time frame you are currently studying. A Literature major taking a science course? Look into science fiction novels that alluded to scientific discovery or technological possibilities. Brave New World or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea could fit nicely.
Other subjects that comfortably intersect:
1. Economics, Geography, Political Science.
2. Women’s Studies, Literature, History, Sociology, African-American Studies.
3. Philosophy, Psychology, History, World Religions.
Do not be afraid to take what you have learned from one course and inject that knowledge into your term paper for another course. I’ve read fantastic Philosophy papers that draw from Engineering Case Studies, Women’s Studies, Biology, and History. To begin, try typing two subjects into the university library search engine and see what pops up; for example, “Virtue Ethics and Business,” or “Utilitarianism and Engineering.” Chances are a journal article will appear that will launch ideas for your term paper.
In my Philosophy class, students linked the following subjects: an aerospace engineering student used Utilitarian Ethical Theory to justify government funds funneled towards space exploration. A student interested in Biology examined the implications of genetic engineering in conjunction with Ethical Theory. A female athlete used our reading on Feminist Theory and applied it to women in sports. The implications of Determinism were highlighted in a paper by a Psychology Major.
Again, the notion that your undergraduate studies are discrete from one another is disingenuous. You have a lot of material right at your finger tips! Write an essay that interests you and it will translate into a well crafted paper.
Finally, professors look for a proper organization of ideas in students’ papers.
1. Be sure to proof read your work for grammar and structure.
2. Do you have an introduction that clearly lets the reader know of your paper’s intention?
3. Check and re-check the order of the paragraphs to ensure a logical flow of ideas.
4. Print your work, step away for a few hours, and then read the paper out loud slowly. This helps you to spot grammar errors and awkward sentences.
5. Have you considered more than one point of view? Is there an opposition?
6. Do you have a conclusion? What did you learn?
Good luck on your term papers!
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