How to Write a Term Paper in Anthropology

Writing guide
Posted on June 23, 2020

Find it hard to write anthropologically and are looking for advice on how to write a term paper in anthropology? Anthropology is a branch of science that studies human groups and cultures as well as early hominids and primates. It’s a very broad field of study that constantly incorporates different new ideas and technologies. Writing a successful term paper in anthropology involves doing an extensive library research, studying a lot of facts and theories to synthesize and critically analyze them. That’s an arduous and time-consuming task and can be challenging for many students.

But with a correct approach and proper organization, you can complete this complex project in several simple steps. In this comprehensive guide, we discuss all aspects of writing a strong anthropology term paper and give you useful tips on how to organize the writing process in order to cope with your work in the shortest possible amount of time. On our website, you can find many other full guides to all writing assignments out there. Check them if you need actionable advice!

What Is a Term Paper in Anthropology?

Before we start discussing basic stages of the writing process, let’s talk about specifics of writing a term paper in anthropology in terms of their organization and style.
An anthropology term paper is actually a library research paper that should be written from anthropological perspective. You are expected to do a research using books in the library and electronic databases that contain journal articles.

You need not just to present data and ideas that you gather during the survey of literature relevant to your topic but you have to analyze and interpret them. Your task is to summarize the data in order to answer a specific research question and discuss the meaning and implications of those answers. Writing a term paper requires an expository style that will emphasize the unambiguous presentation of ideas.

You should present your ideas in a way that your readers will easily understand them – you need to write clearly and coherently. Let’s explain what it means.

  • Organize your anthropology term paper around a clear problem which you formulate during when exploring anthropological literature;
  • A term paper should be based on a well-thought and fairly detailed outline;
  • An anthropology term paper must have a clear structure and all parts must be connected together based on the main goal of your project. Every section should build upon others and support the main argument;
  • Your writing should be explicit and concise to ensure that your audience can follow your logic and won’t be bored with a large amount of unconnected details;
  • It’s crucial to properly cite all sources that you use in your paper and include a list of work cited at the end. If you fail to do it, it will be considered plagiarism and may result in zero credit for your project.

How to Choose an Anthropology Term Paper Topic

Students are typically assigned term paper topics but often, you have an opportunity to select a topic that you are interested in. It’s quite reasonable that your term paper should reflect the scope and the theme of your specific course. There are 4 areas of anthropology: biological/physical anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, linguistics, and archeology. So the choice of a topic will depend on what area you are actually studying and you should also take into account the point of view of your professor. For example, if you are taking a course in sociocultural anthropology, you can explore human behavior and examine social practices and patterns across cultures.

Not sure what topic to choose? Review this list of good anthropology term paper topics for inspiration.

  • Gender and Crime in the 19th Century America;
  • Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics;
  • Ethnology of Southeast Asia Today;
  • Ethnocentrism and the Value of Human Life;
  • The Relationships between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals;
  • The Human Origin and Early Human Migration;
  • The Impact of Trauma on Human Decomposition;
  • Different Perspectives on Human Variation and Race;
  • Forensic Anthropology and Race;
  • Kissing Customs in Different Cultures;
  • Modern-day Polygamy in African Cultures;
  • Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt;
  • Marriage Traditions in the United States;
  • Heredity and Genetic Screening;
  • Cultural Diversity: Benefits and Challenges.

When you have chosen an interesting topic, do a preliminary research to determine the scope of your work and make your topic manageable. If your topic is too broad to address it within the required length of the paper, you should narrow it down to ensure that your argument will be focused on a single major problem.

Before You Start Writing

Here are some tips on how you should approach anthropology term papers to organize your work efficiently.

  • If you were given a topic or a prompt, read it carefully to understand what you are actually required to do. If you have any doubts, consult your instructor before you start working on your project to ensure that you know what is expected from you.
  • Review all the course materials (lecture notes, readings, artifactual evidence) that are relevant to the topic of your paper and the argument that you are going to make. Focus on the major arguments, data, and issue that you will critically evaluate and interpret. Set aside everything that is not relevant to your topic.
  • Have a brainstorming session to generate more ideas, review them to pick the most relevant to the subject of your term paper, and create a mind map to establish connections between them. It can serve you as a basic outline.
  • Formulate a working thesis statement and organize all your textual evidence to support it. Make sure your thesis is strong and specific. Do additional research to find appropriate evidence and make note of the most important facts, theories, and arguments.

Writing a Draft of a Term Paper in Anthropology

When you feel, you have gathered enough material to start writing your term paper, create a detailed outline and organize all your arguments and evidence in a logical way that supports your thesis. Besides, you should think about possible transitions between the main ideas and separate paragraphs. It’s always easier to write when you have an outline because you can actually start from any part of the paper. In this way a good outline saves you a lot of time and helps avoid the writer’s block.

But first, you should review your thesis statement and change it if necessary so it reflects the main direction of the argument you are planning to make. It must present the topic of your term paper and your perspective on the subject. For example, your thesis statement for an anthropology term paper may look like this one:

Human culture is a complex symbol system which helps people construct the meanings of their lives and includes language, beliefs, values, and the rules that people develop.

A clear thesis is an essential component of all analytic papers and you should review your thesis as your project develops to make changes. It’s crucial for a thesis to reflect precisely what is discussed in the body of your term paper.

Writing an Introduction

In an introduction, you need to tell your readers what you are going to explore in your research project. It important to spark some interest in your audience and to convince them to read your paper till the end. So, try to make your introduction engaging and easy to read. You should clarify your topic, formulate your research problem or question, state your thesis, and outline your strategies for investigating the problem and supporting your thesis. Your goal is to prepare your readers intellectually to read the body of your paper. That’s why some students and researchers prefer to write introductions after they have completed the draft of the main part of their academic paper when they know exactly what their piece of writing is about. You may write your introduction first if it is convenient for you but you should review it when you finish your work.

Writing the Main Body

The body of your term paper in anthropology analyzes and interprets your research material. It’s crucial to present all information and ideas logically so that your readers can follow you and understand your arguments. You may organize the presentation of your ideas and arguments using different logical patterns, for example, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and in terms of answers to specific questions. You must support your generalizations and arguments with data, relevant evidence, and good examples.

If your term paper in anthropology is long, it will be reasonable to divide the main body into several sections that address different aspects of your research problem. Use headings and subheading to organize your content and make the text of your term paper easy to read.

Start each paragraph in the main body with a topic sentence that introduces the key idea of the paragraph and controls the direction for a paragraph. Then give explanations and specific details and include supporting evidence, for example, statistics and quotations. But you should be very cautious with including quotes because your instructor is interested to see your own ideas that show how you think. So, you should use quotes sparingly only when it is really necessary and always explain why you include each quote.

Don’t forget to include transitions (words, phrases, and sentences) to link separate sentences and paragraphs. In this way, you will make your term paper in anthropology coherent and easy to follow for your readers.

Writing a Conclusion

A strong conclusion gives you one more chance to remind your readers about the significance of your work and your findings. You should wrap everything up and give your term paper a sense of closure. It’s more than a summary. You need to synthesize and extend your main points, emphasizing the significance of your piece of writing. You need to tell your readers what you have discovered and what these findings mean.

Revise Your Draft, Edit, and Proofread

Your revise your first draft and rewrite vague sections and paragraphs. You may need to rethink your ideas and arguments, reorganize paragraphs, and reword sentences. You may also need to add more details and evidence to support your claims or delete unnecessary paragraphs and sentences. When you are satisfied with the content and logic of your final draft, you need to reread it again and focus on checking word choices, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. A good idea is to ask your friend or a classmate to read your term paper in anthropology proofread it to ensure that there are no minor mistakes and typos.

Citing Sources in Anthropology Term Papers

Anthropology doesn’t have the practice to use a uniform citation style in all scholarly papers. You may visit the site of the American Anthropological Association to check AAA style which is actually based on the Chicago Manual of Style. According to AAA style, you should use in-text citations in parenthesis and include the name of the author, the year of publication, and the number of a specific page and create a works cited list. As to the footnotes, they are uncommon in anthropology. But each anthropological journal has its own citation style so the main problem is consistency in your term paper. It’s better to check your professor about the specific requirements.

Anthropology is one of the most interesting subjects because it studies all aspects of human modern, ancient, and evolutionary history. But it is an interdisciplinary field that looks at all aspects of the world around us and requires anthropological thinking that is free from ethnocentrism. That’s why a term paper in anthropology is a complex project that requires strong analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills and can be challenging for many college students, especially, beginners. But the good news is that anyone can master these skills if they practice a lot and work consistently. We hope that our easy writing guide will help you organize your work and learn to write impressive and engaging term papers in anthropology that will make a great impression on your instructor and get you high grades.

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