How to Write a Topic Proposal for a Term Paper

How to Write a Topic Proposal for a Term Paper

Published by on 2021-08-09 20:40:35

Student life is interesting from various perspectives, even in terms of assignments their professors provide them with. Young people learn how to cope with all possible challenges, keep an eye on detail and meet strict deadlines. Written assignments are one of the most common yet sometimes complicated things they have to deal with. 

Young people have to consider many things when working on their paperwork to get high grades since every aspect plays a certain role. When it comes to a term paper, they have to demonstrate analytical, writing, and researching skills. College teachers pay special attention to its accomplishment since it helps evaluate and track students' knowledge in the course. To complete this assignment, young people should do a great deal of work that starts with choosing a proper title. Hence, if you don't know how to write a topic proposal for a term paper, it is high time to fix it.

What Is a Proposal Paper?

Well, the very name already gives you a clue on what you are dealing with. You propose an idea and do everything possible (provide evidence) to persuade the target audience to share your opinion. The idea can be either a good or bad one, and you should make it clear why it is so. Even though people are used to thinking that proposals are connected only with a business area, it is not the case. 

Students write proposals for their college classes and many professional fields. For instance, you should summarize your proposed research coherently and concisely if it is about a research proposal. You should highlight the key issues and questions that you want to examine. In this case, you should outline the broad area of study your research belongs to, referring to present knowledge and recent discussions within the theme. Your proposal shows the uniqueness of the proposed research.

What Is the Term Paper?

The definition is the key, which will open doors. Therefore, the learner who is getting ready to accomplish the term paper for the first time should get detailed information about the paper type first.  

A term paper is defined as a research paper and is commonly required at the end of the school term. The main goal of the assignment is for the student to highlight the writing skills, knowledge, and qualifications within the field. Irrespective of the topic and the objective of the project, technical writing expertise and an ability to process much information are inevitable. 

Writing the best term paper may take more than a few hours, so you should be ready to focus on the assignment and make maximum effort to detect various aspects of the question. At this point, one should remember that the choice of the theme is fundamental and can either help you obtain the desired success or prevent you from the necessary outcomes. 

Striving to accomplish the task fast and effectively, the learners frequently underestimate the significance of the properly selected topic, making too many mistakes at the initial stages.

How to Write a Paper Proposal?

Since we are talking about a term paper today, it seems reasonable to make it clear how to write a term paper proposal. Many rookies get confused when they face such an assignment since they cannot get why a teacher cannot just provide them with a ready-made topic. Why do they need to complicate everything? You enroll in college to gain knowledge and new experience. Writing a term paper proposal is aimed at developing your academic writing skills. Even though many things will depend on your major and chosen sphere, the chances are high that you will face a need to write a proposal at least once in a lifetime.

It is especially important for students who want to become researchers. You will have to write a proposal to get a job and maintain it. Moreover, pay attention that you will not do without an outstanding proposal every time you apply for a grant. So, let's find out how to start a proposal paper and make it stand out.

Consult Your Professor

A top-notch paper meets the requirement of a target audience. Thus, before you proceed to write your essay, you should find out what your professor expects to get from you. While some teachers prefer to provide their students with proposal examples to show them what direction they should move in, others give only detailed guidelines. If you have neither got an example nor guides, you should turn to your professor to clarify key moments. You may decide to consult the internet instead, but such an approach may result in a dead-end. The web forums are not the most reliable and credible information source. Besides, it is a bad idea to take someone's proposal and pretend it's yours. This saved time may cost you too much in the end.

Define Your Target Audience

If you want your proposal to achieve the desired result, you should know your audience better to reach out to them. A proposal paper represents your attempt to convince your readers that your idea is worth both attention and development or that they should stay away from the subject. But how can you do that if you don't know who you are dealing with? Your professor may ask you to create a proposal for a certain category of people, and you should get to know them better to influence them. For example, people in business can be more interested in the financial side of the question.

Decide on the Topic

Even though we'll focus more on how to write a topic proposal for an essay a bit later, it is important to emphasize that picking up a theme for your paper is a responsible step. You should take it seriously since it sets the tone for your further research and the scope of work you will have to deal with. Pay attention to topics you are passionate about since your interest will become a fuel and driving force. When you have at least a small idea about the subject, it will be much easier to work on it.

Make a Brief Outline

It is always great to have a plan in front of your eyes since it helps you stay on track and do everything gradually. You can find more detailed variants of a proposal outline on the internet, but its basic version will involve the following points:

  • title page;
  • introduction;
  • proposal;
  • methodology;
  • desired outcomes;
  • resources required;
  • conclusion;
  • bibliography. 

Do Research

When you decide on the key points involved in your proposal, it is time to go deep down the question. You should arrange research to have enough information to back up your idea. It is crucial to utilize only credible and robust sources, so you can be sure that all data you've collected is not a soap bubble. If you search for all the information on the internet, it will not be superfluous to double-check everything and take notes, specifying all the cited information according to the chosen topic proposal format.

Write an Introduction

This part of your proposal paper can either make your work appealing to your readers or boring, so they will hardly waste time on reading it till the end. It should involve an attention grabber that will make your target audience get interested in your further proposal. You can summarize a proposed project involving justification for the research, presentation of specific objectives, and potential research significance. Besides, it is worth providing your readers with some background information to help them better understand the proposal and its value in the long term.

Present Your Proposal

It represents a thesis statement, the main purpose of your writing. Therefore, you should make it concise and powerful so everyone understands what your actual proposition is without further ado. It can be only a few sentences long if your proposal is quite short by itself. Resist a temptation to present your thoughts about possible solutions since you should devote a separate paragraph to this part.

Present Methodology

After you have presented your proposal, it is worth discussing how you will achieve the desired result. You should provide detailed information about the experimental procedures you will utilize and the means you will use to analyze and interpret data. If possible, you can present a new methodology and empathize its advantages over already available ones. You can mention potential technical issues connected with the interpretation of the results and available alternative solutions. 

It is important to show that you have a good idea and that you are the right person to perform it. Even though your target audience shouldn't get bored with numerous technical nuances, you should make it clear that you know how the process will work. You can present charts and figures with legends to show the proposal's feasibility.

State Desired Outcomes and Resources Required

It is clear that your proposal suggests a certain outcome you want to achieve, and it is time to state what your goals are. Even though it may seem that this point repeats all the benefits of such a project once again, you should highlight all these moments since they are of great importance. Besides that, you should specify what things you lack to implement your project. It can be about financial sources, hi-tech devices, human sources, or just time.

Write a Conclusion

Even if you decide to mention some background moments of your proposal, you shouldn't rewrite your introduction here. Instead, it is worth paraphrasing your proposal and providing some arguments to support your idea once again. The conclusion should become a cherry on the pie of your proposal paper.


None written assignment can do without a reference list that involves all sources cited throughout the text when it comes to the academic environment. Therefore, your paper proposal should have a well-crafted bibliography. Include only sources you have used to write it. There is no need to clog it with numerous points just to make it look more impressive. Besides, double-check that you have cited all the sources in the text properly to the required citation format.

How to Write a Topic Proposal for Your Paper

Since now you know how to write an essay proposal, it is time to focus more on a topic. It may happen that your professor will ask you to provide a written proposal that highlights certain aspects of the future project you will work on. Usually, it involves the topic, methodology, reasons behind the selected theme, and stuff. Even though a topic proposal doesn't often exceed one page, many young people feel overwhelmed because of this assignment, get stressed and give in to procrastination. It can be hard to start something when you don't have enough experience under the belt. However, you can fix it in a few simple steps, following the next tips.

Create a List of Topics You Are Interested In

A term paper proposal involves four key elements, and the very first of them is just stating what you would like to write about. Take your time to think about topics you are passionate about. If you are indifferent to something, you will hardly achieve any incredible results. You should keep your ideas narrow not to get overwhelmed with information or have issues doing research. On the other hand, your topic should provide you with an opportunity to find information on the subject. Finally, don't forget that such an assignment requires using only credible sources.  

State Reasons for Your Interest

Another thing you should do is to inform your professor why you have chosen the topic and why you are interested in it. Usually, such assignments take about half of the year to complete, so you should pick up a topic that does not make you get annoyed and bored right at the very start. Pay attention to spheres of study that are suitable for answering certain questions. The likelihood of getting the approval of the topic provided goes up if you can demonstrate that you will work in the relevant area that hasn't been yet explored enough.

Describe Your Methodology

Your professor would like to see how you are going to cope with the topic, so you should state your plans in this regard. For example, some majors require conducting studies in the laboratory, while others are focused more on surveys in the sphere. If you study literature, for example, you will have to spend most of your time over books. It doesn't really matter what methodology you will choose, you should just be precise and clear about it, so your teacher doesn't have to ask leading questions to sort things out.

Involve Works on the Topic

The fourth point is about the necessity to create a list of sources you are going to consult. It will show your professor how serious you treat the assignment and whether you are sure about the chosen topic. Besides, they can make some corrections, providing you with some tips on useful sources. It may turn out that some information is outdated and unsuitable.

The Most Common Mistakes Made When Choosing a Term Paper Topic

Writing an impeccable paper worth the highest grade is an exacting task that requires much time, effort, skills, and determination. However, in the overwhelming majority of instances, learners who work on term papers should care for the appropriate topic of the project, which will predetermine the further route of the work. If you fail to select a relevant and up-to-date theme that is interesting for readers, poor are your chances to submit an appealing and reflective text. 

No matter if you are working on a similar assignment for the first time, or you have produced dozens of them, you need to pay due attention to the basics that can advance the quality of your writing to a new level. Do you know how to title an article in a paper? The learners who start the work with this question have little chance to prosper. Instead, it is indispensable to dive into the research and find a helpful guide on how to select the appropriate theme.  

Main Mistakes to Avoid

Writing a proposal paper involves a huge scope of work, and it is important to eliminate mistakes that can spoil the outcome and lower your grade. Pay special attention to the following things:

  • inability to stay concise;
  • inability to determine the contextual frames of your research;
  • inability to provide powerful and holistic arguments for the research;
  • poor grammar and lack of editing and proofreading;
  • too much unnecessary information.

Term Paper Topic Selection: Top 3 Factors to Consider 

As mentioned by most students, instructors provide learners with the term paper topics that are related to the course. Nonetheless, in some instances, the professors give complete freedom to make this choice independently. While some learners relish this chance, others consider it to be an extra struggle. Anyway, that is the challenge that should be accepted, as it may predetermine the success of your writing. 

If you have no idea how to come up with a title for a story you are working on, you can always search the web looking for beneficial options. Check out the examples of similar tasks to get inspired. Analyze the typical themes to single out the one that has not been revealed before. Avoid trivial topics that have been discussed hundreds of times, but rather focus on the compelling and intriguing subjects worth attention. 

Apart from your personal interest, there are three other factors that should be taken into consideration as you pick the topic for the term paper:

  1. Length of the work. It may sound surprising for inexperienced writers, but the length of the assignment may influence the topic. Just imagine that you need to provide 10-15 page work, and your theme is exceptionally shallow and can be revealed in 5 pages. Therefore, you should mind the paper requirements before you immerse yourself in the writing process. 
  2. Resources. This is another point you should mind selecting the paper title. Even if the topic is interesting and compelling, you need to make sure you can find valid and relevant sources of information to reference for the project. 
  3. Complexity. No matter how exciting and unexpected the central finding of your research is, you need to explain the whole theme. Feel free to contact your professor if you have any questions or issues considering the topic you have selected. If you fail to acknowledge the basics even after detailed explanations, you should better opt for a simpler alternative. 

Common Mistakes Students Make in the Title of an Article in a Paper

The title of the term paper can be compared to the shop window. In the overwhelming majority of instances, you enter only the stores that seem interesting and catchy from very first sight. The same happens to the academic projects, as the instructors and other readers make certain conclusions about the whole work by just reading the title. Therefore, the selection of the term paper theme is an exceptionally responsible process that requires attention, determination, and concern. 

Irrespective of the unlimited number of guidelines and instructions on how to pick an appealing theme for the project, most learners keep making the same mistakes again and again. 

What is one of the most common mistakes made when choosing a term paper topic? In fact, their quantity is much larger, so it may be hard to single out only one issue that can prevent you from the desired success. Check out the key issues instructors meet and specify in the students’ works: 

  1. The topic does not describe the results of the research. Every college student should remember that the research paper title is not a teaser but rather an introduction to the subject. Therefore, it should emphasize the objective of the research, making the audience eager to continue reading. 
  2. Too many details are included in the title. A meaningful and well-structured title is exactly what you aim for. Nonetheless, it is critical to avoid too long headings, staffed with facts and information. 
  3. The heading is too long. Such titles are boring, and that is the worst characteristic your text can get. Make sure the heading is informative, logical, concise, and easy to comprehend. 
  4. It is too general. The main task of the learner is to narrow down a general topic and develop one idea that seems to be the most appealing. Therefore, it is inevitable to make the title not only short but also specific, highlighting the specifications of the research. 
  5. The title does not meet the requirements. Learn the requirements mentioned by your professor before you start working on the assignment. It is critical to adhere to the basic guidelines, as it will help you advance the quality of your writing to an exceptionally new level. 

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of possible issues, so you should be attentive and responsible accomplishing the task.

What Is a Debatable Topic for a Term Paper

The debate can be defined as a game of argumentation. Accordingly, the debatable topic is a statement that you should prove to a person or a group of people that have a controversial opinion. When it comes to term papers, your task is to prove to your readers your opinion by doing your study and mentioning scientists that have researchers that correspond to your thoughts. 

For example, some researchers provide evidence that social media makes people’s lives better. Then, you can read a piece of work that mentions that social media is evil for humanity. Both studies give controversial proof. So we can consider that the topic How Social Media Impacts Human Behavior is debatable. 

Keep in mind that sometimes people say ‘argumentative’ as a synonym of the word ‘debatable.’ 

Factors That Make It So

So you know the definition of such a theme. Let’s clarify the question of what makes a topic debatable:

  • two controversial points of view; 
  • proofs of such points of view; 
  • the ‘eternity’ of the theme. It means that it can be discussed endlessly. 

Debates are practiced in middle and high school to improve students’ speaking skills. However, you can face debates not only on such lessons at school as argumentative essays always have a debatable topic. So be sure that such a theme in a term paper is the same as at school. But the main difference is that you should prove it in your paper, not by speaking. 

Does a Debatable Topic Have to Be Yes or No?

Yes, it always has the single-valued answer: yes or no. Let’s see two examples. 

In some countries, people can’t decide if it is worth getting vaccinated or not. And such a topic has two controversial opinions:

  1. Yes, we have to get vaccinated.
  2. No, it isn't worth it or is unnecessary. 

And the second instance. Let’s explore the topic: Is Higher Education a Necessary Factor of a Person's Financial Success in the Future? As you know, in 2021, the opinions on such a statement are different. Some people believe that it’s a necessary step to people’s financial success. But some young freelancers demonstrate that education in colleges or universities isn’t as vital as someone thinks. 

How to Write About a Debatable Topic

When writing a research paper on an argumentative theme, you have to follow a standard plan of any term paper. Let’s explore it in detail. 

The Part of the Paper What to Write There
Title You should write the topic there. For example, Is It Worth Banning Mobile Phones at School
Abstract Tell readers in a nutshell about the purposes of your piece of work, your researching methods, and the main results 
Introduction Bring your readers up to date on the problem
Main body Prove your point of view by citing researchers of other people and doing your own study 
Conclusion Write about the results of your work

Conclusion requires to say more about itself. You can demonstrate the scenario when the problem of your work is solved. Or another option: you can say that there is another point of view, and there are many studies that confirm it. By doing so, you’ll show professors that you understand that we don’t have insurance for making mistakes.