Typical Mistakes in Writing College Term Papers

Written assignments are an inseparable part of getting a formal education, and you have all the years in high school and college to master this skill. Such tasks vary in their nature: each type of essay and paper aims at enhancing different skills. Thus, an argumentative essay is supposed to teach you to reason, a descriptive essay helps to develop your ability to shape your thoughts, and specific fact-related assignments make sure you learned a topic well. However, such a significant assignment as a term paper is not for training. It, in turn, must demonstrate how you advance your skills in writing and knowledge in a topic throughout a semester or a year. So, here are the things to pay attention to in your paper if you do not want to get a bad grade for your assignment.

Discipline perspective

If you are getting a major in law, you cannot write about the sociological and psychological reasons for juvenile delinquency, gender aspects of divorce, or the moral nature of crimes. Although these matters may be relevant as supporting material or complementary issues in your reasoning, you should stick to the subject matter and study your topic from the perspective of the particular discipline you are assigned a paper in. Many topics you study in college are multidisciplinary and can be covered from different perspectives. However, your task is to make sure you follow the instructions of your topic and demonstrate your knowledge in the right subject. The narrower your topic is, the deeper you can delve into it. 


The language you use to communicate with your friends is different from the one you use in your term paper. There are many chances to err, so here is a checklist of the things you should avoid:

  • Colloquial phrases. You should stick to the formal register to make your narrative objective, unambiguous, and logical. Colloquialisms are associated with emotional appeals, and those do not fit the academic style. 
  • Contractions. They also belong to the informal register, so it is better to use full words in your paper. 
  • Generalization. Never call something good, bad, best, etc., especially if you do not have facts to support yоur claim. Find statistics or research on your topic and back up your argument with it. 
  • Slang. The words you use in your paper must stand for their denotational meaning and must not make your claims ambiguous. For that reason, avoid using slang and phrasal verbs: English is a very large language in terms of the number of words, so there are a variety of synonyms you can use for a single idea.


Do not forget to make your paper flow. To connect facts and paragraphs, use transitional words that will make your writing readable. Use such words as additionally, however, nonetheless, and therefore depending on the idea you want to express. Without transitions, your paper will look patch-like, so you should connect your ideas in a cohesive whole. 

Thesis statement

The thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper. It is a sentence or two, but it must show the main idea of your work. It must be concise and argumentative. One of the typical mistakes in academic writing is a descriptive thesis statement instead of an argumentative one. It should have a claim that you want to prove rather than name the topic of the work. If you do not create a compelling thesis statement, it will impact your whole paper in terms of its content and structure. 

Besides, with a strong thesis statement, it will be easier for you to build the structure of your paper and follow your topic, as every paragraph will support the idea you express in the statement.

Formatting and citing

Every academic style has its strict requirements in terms of making a list of the sources you used, title page, headers, footnotes, and in-text citations. It is important not to mix these up because such details can impact your overall grade. For that reason, take your time to study these peculiarities and polish the format of your essay. Additionally, some services generate citations in different formats, but it is always necessary to double-check it before adding to the bibliography. 

Pay close attention to the rules of citing and quoting, and the materials you reference. Remember: if you fail to cite a source properly, it may be considered as plagiarism, which will jeopardize your grade. 


The sources you use are as important as the conclusions you make while reading them. For your term paper, you should use only reliable sources, and there are distinctive features of those you can trust. So, here is another checklist for you:

  1. It must have an author. Blog posts are not suitable for backing up your research because they are subjective and may be written by an author lacking expertise.
  2. It must be published and perfectly peer-reviewed. The best kind of source for your paper is a scholarly article. They are issued in specific journals and reviewed by the author’s academic peers. If your source has a DOI (digital object identifier) it is considered a credible one and you can use it in your work without hesitation. 
  3. It must be relevant. A timely academic source was published less than 5 years ago. If you need to cite a literary piece, you do not have to think about that. However, if it is data about the environment, medicine, or technology, time relevance is crucial, as the material grows outdated quickly. 
  4. It must be official. If you cite information from a website, make sure it is a credible one. Sites that end with .org, .gov, .edu or .mil are worthy of your trust and will look appropriate in your bibliography list.

Finally, if you are a student, you are probably used to writing a lot of essays and papers, so you know what to do and what not to do in your essay. However, short deadlines and the diversity of assignments you need to cover may distract you. If you require help with such an important assignment, there is a professional term paper writing service that will help you with no such mistakes. Just explain what you need and an experienced writer will complete an exemplary paper for you.

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