Writing an Anthropology Term Paper: A Complete Guide

Writing guide
Posted on February 4, 2019

Wondering how to write a 15-page term paper for your anthropology class? In this article, you will find a complete anthropology term paper writing guide that can make the writing of your anthropology term paper easier. You will learn about effective procedure and strategies that will help you save time and effort when doing research and organizing your term paper and allow you to concentrate on its quality to make it a polished expert project that deserves a high grade.

What Is an Anthropology Term Paper?

It is an academic paper based on library research on a topic approved by your professor and written from the anthropological perspective. The anthropology term paper has a specific citation format which is also used by several other social sciences. Besides, an anthropology term paper requires an expository style of writing that emphasizes the unambiguous presentation of scientific information and ideas and can be easily understood by any reader.

When writing a term paper in anthropology, you should not just repeat certain information that you found in one or two sources like when writing a report that is often assigned to high school students. A college-level term paper requires more commitment and intellectual involvement when completing a report does.

A term paper in anthropology has to present your interpretation and analysis of ideas and data found in several credible sources that are relevant to the topic of your anthropology term paper. When analyzing the data that you found in anthropological literature, you should organize it and summarize the key ideas to answer your topic question. But that is not enough. You have to present your own interpretation of the ideas and data that is you need to discuss the meaning and implications of your answers concerning the problems, ideas, and issues that you address in your term paper.

Choosing a Topic

A term paper in anthropology should be organized around a certain problem that is usually formulated as you explore the anthropological literature. So the first thing you have to do is to choose an appropriate topic that you are interested in and do preliminary research to check it for feasibility and consult with your instructor. When doing a preliminary reading, you will be able to formulate your research problem or a thesis statement. This is a very important step because the problem that you choose will be the focus of your paper. It will direct your research and limit your efforts.

When doing research, you have to find credible scientific data that answer your research question and to find the ideas of different scholars who have already discussed these issues. It’s important that you use only the data that is needed to provide an answer to your question otherwise your term paper will lack unity and coherence. That’s why your reading and note-taking should be subordinated to a clear problem that you state during your preliminary research and reading.

When you have chosen a topic and determined that enough information is available on it, you are free to proceed in doing your research. But, if you are facing difficulty in finding adequate information, don’t waste your time and find another topic.

Here is a short list of possible topics for an anthropology term paper for your inspiration. Feel free to use them if you lack your own ideas.

Anthropology Term Paper Topics Our Specialists Recommend

  • Rituals, Culture, and Practices of Contemporary Hinduism
  • Religious Beliefs in the Contemporary World
  • Family Issues in Contemporary Japanese Society
  • How Feminism and Diversity are Transforming Traditional Societies
  • Lifestyle of the Paleolithic Age
  • Medical Pluralism in The United States
  • Environmental Crisis in The South Africa
  • Social Status of Women in Ancient Egypt
  • Class Structure in The United States
  • How to Minimize Ethnocentrism
  • International Students and Culture Shock
  • Anthropology in Health Research
  • Linguistic and Biological Diversity
  • The Anthropology of Emotions
  • The Use of Evolutionary Theory in Anthropology

Doing a Research

Before you start doing research, you should make a list of keywords related to your topic and research question. You may use brainstorming techniques and create a mind map of the key concepts and sub-topics that is sure to help you organize your reading and keep it focused. You may add or delete some key words during the research process as you have a better idea of your topic to make your research more relevant and up to the point. You may revise this mind map at any time.

Creating a mind map or a preliminary outline can save you tons of time because it is easier to makes changes to reorganize your anthropology term paper by adding some sections to your mind map or crossing out some of them than rewriting the whole paper itself or starting it over again.

Formulate your thesis statement. It should be well-defined and focused but you may need to revise it later. Write your thesis or research question in one or two sentences because it will control the development and the direction of your entire term paper.

Now you can begin your research. You can find scholarly books on your topic in the library as well as articles in scientific journals. You can also check the internet resources and electronic databases to find relevant credible sources you that you can use for supporting your argument.

You should take notes as you read and for every source that you plan to use for writing your term paper, you should write down the publication information on a separate page of your notebook or on an index card. You will need this information for your bibliography page. You should write important details, points for your discussion or examples and always distinguish between paraphrasing and direct quotes.

Making an Outline

As your reading progresses, you will have a better idea what information is needed for analyzing your problem and in which way it has to be presented in your term paper to make a logical and coherent presentation. Now it’s time to create a working outline which you can revise and elaborate as you need it.

Keep in mind that you have to think about your term paper as a whole and ensure that it is thematically united and is integrated in structure. All academic papers generally consist of three parts: an introduction, the body, and the conclusion. All these parts must be logically connected and subordinated to the main idea of your paper. The goal of your term paper is to tell your readers about your analysis of the research question that you have formulated and researched and to provide your own interpretation of it. Your task is to make your term paper as easy to understand as it is possible.

Structure of an Anthropology Term Paper

The Introduction
The introduction should present your topic and give some background information about it. You should state your research problem and describe in brief your strategy for doing the research and understanding this problem. Besides, the introduction should grab the attention of your reader and encourage him/her to read your paper. You should persuade your reader to make an intellectual effort and read the body of your paper.

The best way to write an introduction is to do it when you have finished writing your body paragraphs. In this way, you will make your introduction the most effective.

The Body
The body of your term paper realizes your plan and strategy to analyze and interpret your material. Here you have to provide your argument and include specific details. You have to present the necessary information in a logical order so that your reader will be able to understand your ideas. You have to organize the body in terms of answering the questions, comparison and contrast, cause and effect. Your body must derive generalizations from data and support your generalizations with data.

The Conclusion
The conclusion is your last chance to impress your readers and remind them of nature and the significance of the research problem that you have formulated at the beginning. It should also summarize the meaning and the implications of your analysis. You have to tell your reader what you have actually discovered and what it means. You should concisely restate your plans and intentions and tell your readers in brief what actually happened as you conducted your research. In other words, you must summarize and synthesize the progress of your understanding the problem from the first opening statement through the in-depth research and detailed development of this problem in the body of your anthropology term paper.

Writing a Draft

Start writing your body paragraphs and concentrate on the content without paying much attention to minor grammar error or typos. You will fix that later when proofreading your final draft. You should write your term paper with your readers in mind and be explicit and clear so that your audience could follow your argument. You have to be concise but, at the same time, it is necessary to be complete. Never refer to some ideas that are not included in your argument unless you are completely sure that your readers are familiar with that information.

Make sure that your readers have all the necessary data to follow your argument and understand your logic. Choose the most precise words to explain your ideas and always explain anthropological terms and concepts that you mention in your term paper. Follow your outline to ensure that logical connections in your term paper are explicit. A good idea is to use subtitles that will keep your material organized and help your readers to see the logic in your argument. You should keep your term paper balanced and include any material in your paper only if it is important for your argument.

Revise, Rewrite, and Proofread

You cannot expect to write the outstanding first draft that will bring you a high grade. Any writing process is always recursive and you are likely to do a lot of revising and rewriting to make your anthropology term paper impressive and be able to convey your ideas effectively. You will always need to rewrite some vague sections where your meaning is not clear. But even if your draft is more or less comprehensive, additional revisions and rewriting will only improve it.

If you practice writing academic papers and get feedback on them, you will eventually develop a sense of what and when you have to revise, what parts of paper you need to exclude, and what material you need to rewrite. Practice makes perfect.

One of the best anthropology term paper tiops you could get is be ruthless when revising your term paper. Don’t hesitate to cut out any excessive or imprecise words and throw away some sentences and even entire passages that do not communicate your ideas. Check the logical flow and make sure that your paragraphs have transitions words that help your readers follow that logic.

When you are satisfied with your content, you need to finally check your draft and eliminate grammar, spelling, and punctuation error if there are any. Pay special attention to your verb tenses and make sure you do not overuse the passive voice.

The Citation Format of Anthropology Papers

All rules that were mentioned above can actually be applied to writing any term papers but anthropology papers differ from academic papers written in other courses because they have a distinctive citation format. You may check the American Anthropological Association Style Guide to understand how your anthropology term paper should be formatted.

This format is easier to use because it requires using in-text citations instead of footnotes. It means that you will need less work as you have to include the complete bibliographic information for your source only once in the reference list. As an exception, you can use footnotes for citing your sources if you include many citations into one sentence to avoid distracting your readers’ attention from your logical reasoning and do not clutter the text of your anthropology term paper. You must give citations in every case when you use someone else’s ideas to avoid plagiarism.

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