Creating Your Term Paper Proposal

A common course requirement in high school or college is the term paper. Teachers often assign this as it is a way for students to learn more about particular aspects of the subject that may not be covered in class. The term paper is not a reflection or opinion paper where you can just write about what you feel or think. It requires supporting facts and theories to highlight the different arguments and prove your point. So it is something very serious indeed, especially since most term papers take up a significant portion of the course grade (usually between 20 to 30%).

The term paper proposal

Because of all the research and writing needed for a term paper, most teachers require students to first submit a proposal before approving a student’s topic. One reason is to ensure students have picked something challenging that can be researched. Another is to prepare students for future projects that they will encounter, like the thesis paper and dissertation, where only well thought out projects will be accepted.

Selecting a topic

The first step is to think of a topic. Since much time will be spent on this project, it is wise if you choose something very interesting for you. Doing so will make the term paper easier to finish because you will like what you are reading and writing. Next, ensure that your selection has enough resources. A general rule is to have at least 3 sources per argument or reason in your paper. These sources should also be a mixture of books, journals, and online articles.

Parts of the Proposal

  1. Title: You should have a working title that is clear for the reader. Since it is a term paper, it should be formal and not too wordy. 
    For example, something like “Social Media and Kids” is too broad as it can mean a whole range of things. However, something like “The negative effects of social media platforms can hurt the development of children aged 5 to 12 because of the wrong values they learn” is way too long and should be discussed in the paper itself. 
    So you should opt for something in the happy middle, such as “The negative effects of social media on kids.”
  2. Objectives: This is where you state the purpose of the study. What do you plan on investigating? What do you aim to achieve?
    Sometimes students have a good issue in mind but are tackling the problem from the wrong angle. By seeing this section in the proposal, the teacher can then help them out.
  3. Importance and Relevance: In this section, you must defend why your paper is worth investigating and how it can help people today. Thus, it helps to cite references (articles or blogs) that present the issue’s importance.


The term paper is a good exercise for students, preparing them for future projects of greater difficulty. If you would like to begin your paper in earnest, then take note of the pointers above for your term paper proposal so that your teacher can give you the go-signal to begin.