Term Papers

The length of the paper, the question that students seem to be most concerned with, is perhaps the least important of all criteria, but in order to have a general guideline, perhaps a length of 8-12 pages (or something between 4,000 and 6,000 words, not counting the appendix, should be appropriate for a paper in a proseminar. In the new degree programmes, the length of the paper is usually fixed by the Modulhandbuch. Oddly enough, the Modulhandbuch does not say anything about the length of the Bachelor paper. As a general guideline, about 20 pages is an appropriate length.

What counts in the first place is whether the paper is logically structured and well reasoned and whether, albeit in a modest way, it has one central, possibly new idea that everything else is subordinated to. In general, high marks are awarded for papers that

have a clear argument
have a clear structure
discuss alternatives, give reasons for their choices
take up suggestions from the classroom discussion or the literature on the subject
are written in clear and appropriate English
Besides the text, your paper should contain

a title page
an index
annotations (optional)
a bibliography
For references you should use a system that is absolutely correct and consistent. As long as that is the case, you can use any system, but remember that books and journals are conventionally written in italics, whereas articles or parts of books (chapters, short stories, poems etc.) are placed between quotation marks. Here are some examples:

B. B. Bobbs, “A new theory of something or other”. Journal of Repetitive Research 8/1988: 8-88.
D. D. Dodds, On Bobbs and Other Great Linguists. Oxford: Sellwell, 1997.
P.P. Popps, “My Latest Theory” in: P.P. Popps, Some of My Most Important Work: A Collection. London: Poppleton University, 1989: 99-199
Use direct quotation in the text only if the exact wording is important or if you have another specific reason for doing so. If not, paraphrase what the other text says and add author, year and page number in brackets, like this: A thorough discussion of Bobbs (1993) is provided by Dodds (1994, 101-123). The complete reference must, of course, be included in the bibliography at the end of the paper. Thus, you can avoid footnotes for reference. Use footnotes only if you want to make an additional comment which does not form part of the general line of thought or would interrupt it.

Any questions relating to the paper can be discussed with me before you hand in the paper. If you like you can have a look at a term paper which got a good grade, written on the topic of advertising (my comments not included). Another good term paper, also written on the subject of advertising (including my comments) can be consulted in my office.