Seminar Paper Handout
A seminar paper is often the key assignment of a single course, designed to demonstrate your sustained, focused analysis of a concept, issue, or problem. Typically a paper of 15-20 pages, the seminar paper is a demanding piece of writing, both in terms of the amount of research required and the relatively short time in which you have to complete the assignment. But do not fear—with good planning and preparation, your seminar paper can be a rich, exciting project from which you can learn a lot about a topic and become a better writer (remember, practice makes perfect, or at least improves).
Features Of A Seminar Paper
Seminar papers can vary widely in topic and objective, depending on the subject matter and goals of the class and the requirements of the professor. Therefore, it is vitally important that you understand the assignment as you work on your paper.
There are four basic components that you should include in any seminar paper:
- Title Page—This page contains the title of your paper, followed by your name, the course designator and number, and the date you are turning in the assignment. For an example of a title page, see the Formatting Papers in Turabian Style Handout.
- Abstract—The abstract should be on a separate page from the rest of the paper and immediately follow the title page. It consists of a brief paragraph or two highlighting the major points of your argument.
- Content—This is your paper, complete with introduction, development of the argument (body), and conclusion.
- Works Cited Page—This page includes bibliographic data of all of the sources you cited within the paper.
Questions to Consider When Writing a Seminar Paper
Your paper is likely to be evaluated according to these same questions, so it will do you a world of good to ask them of yourself as you draft your paper.
- Is your thesis (your stance on the issues or proposed solution to a problem) clearly evident?
- How well have you used evidence to develop your thesis and to support your own point of view?
- How well do you demonstrate valid logic and sound reasoning in the course of making your argument?
- How thoroughly have you researched this topic? Did you consult a broad range of sources, or are the sources too concentrated in one type or category of evidence (or a single disciplinary approach)? Are your sources current? Are they representative of the field(s) of research on this topic?
- How flexible have you been in approaching the topic, rather than letting your preconceptions influence your analysis of issues and their implications?
- How fair and accurate have you been in presenting complicating viewpoints, and in citing evidence that helps reconcile the opposition?
- How well have you conceptualized your audience in composing this argument, and what adaptations to your technique and style have you made in order to connect with that audience?