How to define the purpose of a term paper

The purpose statement of a term paper should summarize the aims and goals of the paper, as well as the main topic of discussion. Put it in your introduction so your reader will have a clear and concise indication of what it is you will be discussing. Speak also to what is to be gained by reading your term paper. When writing your purpose, use specific and concrete images and ideas, not vague ones. Make it one or two sentences long, but not any longer. Make clear declarations, nothing muddled or murky. Finally, be sure your purpose is a goal-oriented one.

There are a variety of introductory phrases you can use when developing your purpose statement. Some of them are listed as follows:

  • The purpose is…
  • In this paper, I shall…
  • The reason for my writing this is…
  • This paper will discuss…

Examples of poorly-written purpose statements:

  • “The purpose of this paper is to discuss the various changes taking place in China”.
  • This sentence is too vague. There is no distinct indication of what will be learned or gained from reading it. The reader would like to know what specific changes are going to be examined, what aspect of China is being discussed, and whether or not the paper will cover the effects of such changes with regards to the future.

  • “The purpose of this term paper is to discuss the hazards of procrastination and laziness.”
  • This sentence is not very specific. The reader does not know what is to be learned or gained from reading on. Finally, the reader has no indication as to what aspects of these topics will be discussed. Avoid being vague in your statement(s).

Examples of well-written purpose statements

  • “This paper describes four common grammatical mistakes made on college research papers and the ramifications of failure among college freshmen.”
  • This sentence is specific about the topics at hand. The sentence also attempts to link two complex ideas. A sentence such as this marks the superior writer.

  • “The main purpose of this term paper is to define and understand the causes of absenteeism among high-school seniors.”
  • This sentence is specific. It gives the reader a clear picture of what will be discussed.

    In this essay, you have come to understand the differences between poorly-written purpose statements and well-written ones; and, you are well on your way to developing fine purpose statements for your term papers.