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Unformatted text preview: How to Write a Term Paper or Thesis Michael A. Covington Artificial Intelligence Center The University of Georgia Athens, Georgia 30602 http://www.ai.uga.edu/mc Revised June 3, 2005 Abstract This is a basic style guide for writing scientific papers under my direction. It was written for internal use in the Artificial Intelligence Center. However, other science departments may find it helpful. You are encouraged to share it with colleagues. 1 What is a term paper or thesis? In the Middle Ages, in order to be admitted to a trade guild, a craftsman had to demonstrate his ability by producing a piece of work, called his mas- terpiece, for examination by the officers of the guild. He was then granted the title of Master of his trade. When universities were founded, they immediately emulated this practice and began to grant the degrees of Master and Doctor to people who had proved their ability to do scholarly work. A thesis or dissertation today serves the same purpose as a medieval crafts- mans masterpiece. It is proof of ability to do a certain kind of work. Specif- ically: To get a doctors degree, you must become familiar with current sci- entific knowledge of your subject, add to this knowledge by making an original discovery, and then report the results in a dissertation. 1 To get a masters degree, it is sufficient to make a new synthesis or application of knowledge already available, and report the results in a thesis. To pass certain courses, you must write a term paper, which demon- strates that you can connect information and report it in your own words. It is not necessary to make a new discovery or a new synthesis. To get a degree from an English-speaking university, you must prove that you can write scholarly papers, in English, that reflect state-of-the-art knowledge of your subject. 2 How is a term paper or thesis judged? Presentation is more important than most students realize. Even the most brilliant piece of scientific work is useless if the resulting report is unclear or needlessly hard to read or leaves vital questions unanswered. I grade term papers on how well they do the following four things: Define a clear topic and stick to it throughout the paper, addressing a consistently defined audience. Use the best available sources of information and acknowledge them appropriately. Display careful organization and clear wording. Follow scholarly standards for format, grammar, spelling, and other mechanical matters. If the paper reports original research or technical work, a large part of the grade is based on the quality of the work itself, but presentation still counts; if you cant present your work well, you might as well not have done it....
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This note was uploaded on 05/14/2008 for the course ORG 502 taught by Professor Taylor during the Spring '07 term at University of Phoenix.
- Spring '07