The Complete Guide to a Geology Term Paper

Writing guide
Posted on January 18, 2019

Students are sometimes required to write a term paper at the end of their school semester. It is usually designed to enable the instructors to assess and track the students’ knowledge of the course. It is important to note that a term paper is somehow different from an essay as it needs extensive research and technical writing skills. An instructor expects a paper that is well-researched, analytical, organized, and generally well-written. With the help of these skills, a student can write a term paper that can show that they have acquired the needed knowledge. A term paper is easy to write as long as a student follows the basic steps needed to complete such papers. This geology term paper guide offers a step-by-step process that can be used to write an excellent term paper. However, it is important to take into account the needs of the instructor.

How to Start a Winning Term Paper: Best Picks from Our Writers

Selection of Geology Term Paper Topic

The first step is to select an appropriate topic for the geology term paper. At times, an instructor provides a specific topic that should be covered in a term paper. In such a case, the topic cannot be changed, and the student can move forward with the other steps. The other scenario is when students are required to pick a topic on their own. In this case, students can use various strategies to select a suitable issue. An example is where a student elects to examine geologic materials in the library and brainstorm ideas for a suitable topic. Nevertheless, it would be appropriate for them to select a topic in areas where they are interested in or that can be useful for their future careers. Choosing an interesting topic can be a good recipe for writing a good term paper. Here are some sample topics in geology term paper writing you can discuss:

  • Analysis of the Processes Involved in the Formation of a Coral Reef;
  • Exploration of Underlying Activities in Volcanism;
  • The Impact of the Hydrologic Cycle on Agricultural Activities;
  • Analysis of Anthropogenic Activities Contributing to Climate Change;
  • How the Process of Weathering Varies According to the Geographical Location.

Researching the Sources

The chosen topic will guide the student on the resources that will be needed to complete the term paper. The materials for the research can be obtained from the school library or online databases. In both cases, it is important to come up with keywords that can make it easier to obtain relevant sources within a short time. Students should follow the instructor’s guideline in the selection of suitable sources. For instance, the instructor might need to use only scholarly sources. In such a case, only books and journal articles should be used in the research. If there is no such requirement, students can be free to use information from other reliable sources such as government websites, for example. Journal articles usually have information that is specific, while books tend to focus on a more general audience. It is important to group the chosen articles based on the similarities in their concepts.

Obtaining Knowledge

The number of sources that should be used in a paper is dependent on the number of pages. However, there are some cases where the instructor can define the number of external sources in the term paper. Students should not go beyond the instructor’s guidelines. After obtaining all the required sources, they should go to a quiet place where there is no disturbance and start to analyze information. For journal articles, students can obtain the main ideas by examining their abstracts. These are summaries that can provide a better way of understanding the material. This can be followed by reading the entire articles for more detailed information. For books, students are advised to look at the table of contents so as to guide them to the specific information that they might need. They should note down all the vital information as they read through the sources. For a term paper, the process can take a few days depending on the number of pages and required sources.

Organizing the Material

The information noted should be organized before it is used in the term paper. It would be better to identify important themes to make the analysis of the materials easier. Information from the sources should be grouped according to the themes. For a geology term paper, the themes can be used to build up sections and subsections of the paper. Students should find as many of them as possible but within the limited topic and number of pages. At the end of this process, they should be ready to start writing the term paper. However, it is important to identify the thesis statement that will be used to focus it on the specific concepts as shown below.

Thesis Statement/Statement of Purpose

After completing the research process, it is vital to look back on the topic and identify the strongest idea or ideas that will be discussed in the paper. This is an assertion that the student will make it clear to the instructor or reader about what they expect to learn in the paper. This is the spine of the paper and all the conclusions will be anchored here. For a term paper, it is also allowable for students to use a purpose statement to show the direction of the paper. Nevertheless, students should provide enough room for flexibility in case they might want to make some changes in the course of writing. They can go back and adjust the thesis or purpose statement as necessary. When all the elements have been covered, the students will be set to complete the first draft of the term paper based on the outline provided below.

Is the Outline an Essential Part?

Title Page and Abstract

The title page and abstract can be completed at the end of the paper. The format of the title page can differ depending on the formatting style used or the requirements of the instructor. However, standard title pages should have the title of the paper, the name of the student, class, and submission date. After completing the title page, the student should write the abstract or executive summary. It is important to note that the summary is quite different from the conclusion or introduction. Some students have a tendency of copying some information from the conclusion to the abstract. It is important to note that an abstract is a brief review that presents a term paper and the most important points or findings. The reader should be able to understand the entire paper by reading only the abstract. That is why it should be completed at the end of the paper.


In a geologic term paper, the introduction provides some background information about the topic that is going to be discussed. If the topic is about the formation of coral islands, the students should provide some information about corals and their role in the marine system. Besides, they should include information that will inform the reader about the value or worthiness of the research. In other words, the author should justify the reason why the topic is important to be investigated and what he or she is trying to achieve in the end. For example, a geology research can be used to assist the local people to determine better ways to preserve their natural ecosystems. At the end of the introduction, the student should provide the statement of purpose or goals to show the author the specific focus of the paper. By the end of the paper, the audience should be content that the goals stated in the introduction were adequately addressed.

Main Body

The body is where the topic is discussed in details. Short term papers can be completed through a series of paragraphs. However, students are recommended to separate long term papers into sections using appropriate headings. The heading should be relevant and reflect the information below them. In some cases, students might want to use subheadings to show main subject discussions. The sections and subsections should be simple to write because they are based on the themes obtained from research. Each paragraph should start with a claim that will be supported through outside sources. All the outside information needs to be paraphrased before it is included in the text. If direct quotations are used, they should be minimized as well as properly cited. Besides, information cited within the term paper should be minimized and the bulk of the information should be the student’s analysis. Overall, the body paragraphs should satisfy the reader by piecing together the evidence and making logical statements and arguments.


The purpose of the conclusion is to consolidate the result of the discussion and provide a summary of the issues that emerged in the process. It should show the reader the implications of the results in the larger context. For example, the reader can conclude that the continued deterioration of the coral reefs will affect the marine ecosystems in the long term. In other words, the conclusion should focus on the bigger picture. It is vital to note that whereas the abstract focuses on the smaller picture of the study, the conclusion focuses on the implications of the outcome in the larger context. However, there are cases where information in the abstract and conclusion can overlap. At the end of the conclusion, a student is expected to provide a statement about the future of the topic that has been discussed. This can be in the form of a recommendation on further research that will have to be performed.

Reference List

The reference section provides a list of all the sources that a student referenced in the term paper. It is important to take into account the formatting style when creating the references. For example, the way references are cited in the American Psychological Association (APA) is different from the Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago, or Harvard styles. Each of these styles has its own format that should be followed strictly when referencing. Referencing also differs based on the type of source. For example, the format used for journal articles is different from that of books, periodicals, websites, films, etc. Hence, it is important for a student to understand the style that should be used in the term paper. Nevertheless, the reference list at the end of the paper should be clear, complete, and consistent in style. It will guide the reader on the relevance and credibility of the sources used to support the paper.


The appendix should be used to offer additional information that is more detailed and used to support the body of the text. This is the information that would make the term paper untidy and disorganized if it is included in the main text. Some of the information that can be placed in the appendix includes charts, tables, statistics, maps, and many others. The tables and figures included in the appendices are those that are usually more than one page. Otherwise, those that are short should be embedded in the text. It is important to note that information in the appendix should not stand-alone. It needs to be clearly referenced and explained in the body of the text.

The final step is to proofread the paper before it is submitted to the instructor. This process should involve checking for typos and spelling mistakes that might be present in the paper. There are many words that are commonly misspelled in geology. For example, the use of the words such as the name of the planet should be capitalized irrespective of where it is used in a sentence. It is also one of the most valuable geology term paper tips to take a break of about one day before proofreading the paper. That would allow the student to identify errors that might not be easy to recognize.


  1. Chin, P. (2013). Academic writing skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Fogiel, M. (2009). REA’s quick & easy guide to writing your A+ term paper. Piscataway, N.J.: Research & Education Association.
  3. McLean, M. (2011). Essays & term papers. Pompton Plains, NJ: Career Press.
  4. Oreopoulos, P., Brown, R., & Lavecchia, A. (2014). Pathways to education. Cambridge, Mass: National Bureau of Economic Research.
  5. Sorenson, S. (2010). Webster’s New World student writing handbook. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub.
Upgrade your essays with these FREE writing tools!
Get started now