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If your entire argument is built upon a stack of Newsweeks, it will tremble in the slightest breeze. Try to use several different types of sources in your research.These would include (but need not be limited to) books, magazine articles, journal articles (really serious magazines), reference books, and the internet.So a search on alligators turns up everything from wildlife to recipes.
In your first draft, say what you have to say, then punch it up or trim it down as need be. Outlining is a genuine pain, which I personally put in the same category as cleaning the litter box - a necessary evil. You should seek out and befriend a competent and helpful reference librarian early on, like Buffy found Giles.
But it actually does help, especially in the early stages of your paper, by forcing you to come to terms with what you want to say about your topic. If you find that person, the path to the information you will need to graduate will be smoothly paved, and may even turn out to be full of interesting roadside attractions. Each page of your term paper should have around 1-3 references per page, as a general rule of thumb.
Profs see enough fluff that they generally smell it a mile away. Unfortunately, librarians are merely human, working long thankless hours for low pay, so a little patience on your part will go a long way.
Kind of like a sixth sense, or a really obscure super power. Remember that most of the interface you deal with aren't really librarians, they're student workers, clerical staff, or whoever else could be dragooned into helping to fill the long hours on the firing line.
How an instructor or lecturer determines what is meant by a term paper is usually their choice, since the expression is a loose one that may or may not involve extensive research, and may or may not cover all the work in a semester or ‘term.’ Depending on the subject being studied, students can choose excellent topics on which to base a term paper to demonstrate how well they have understood the work or research covered during the term.
Science, arts, business, communications, and engineering subjects all provide absorbing topics that can be used, but care must be taken to devise a topic that engages most of the material studied in a comprehensive way.
There are natural and unnatural phenomena; objects created by humankind and those we consider to be a product of the Supreme Mind; there is flora and there is fau...
Professors almost always provide specific written guidelines for length, focus, format etc. If they don't, they pay major dues when it's time to grade them. Fit the idea to the space provided, and be concise.
Make sure that you find this topic genuinely interesting, or find some aspect of it that is especially cool. If your topic is way too broad, try homing in on some part of that topic, and exploring that area in more depth.
Many good ideas are wasted because students have a hard time focusing on a narrow enough topic.